THREATENED: Bunshaft's LBJ Library & Plaza

MEMO

TO: THC Executive Committee

FROM: Larry Oaks, Executive Director, Texas Historical Commission

RE: Proposed Alterations to the LBJ Library and Plaza, Austin, TX

Attached please find an announcement for a public meeting which will be held on October 10 at 7:00 PM.
Below is a summary of the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) issues and concerns:

­ The University of Texas at Austin is slated to receive funding from the National Archives and Records Administration for the creation of the Lady Bird Johnson Center at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum in Austin.

­ The LBJ Library and Museum, with its associated plaza, is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places at the national level of significance under Criteria A and B in the area of Politics/Government for its association with President Lyndon B. Johnson and as the federal repository for archival materials associated with his political career. The property is also eligible under Criterion C as an exemplary example of modernist design by Gordon Bunshaft of the firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.

­ The University’s proposal calls for approximately one half of the terrazzo and travertine plaza, between Sid Richardson Hall and the Library, to be replaced with a sunken courtyard. This will eliminate two of the three reflecting pools. We have entertained the concept of an amphitheater, but we disagree with the size of the proposed cavity. We would prefer if there were no void cut in the plaza.

­ The University’s proposal includes a mound of wildflowers which rises above the level of the current plaza. We find this inappropriate.

Because nationally-significant properties of this type are rare, (there are only nine Presidential libraries) and because the nature of the proposed project would impact its character-defining features, we want to ensure that all parties involved in the planning process may have their concerns addressed.

We hope to ensure an outcome that honors the President and Mrs. Johnson's legacies, as well as the outstanding architectural achievement of Gordon Bunshaft.

If you have any questions please contact Sandy Waltuck at sandy.waltuck@thc.state.tx.us or 512/463-6183.

Click here to view the Public Notice for October 10th Meeting

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