While small in size, the admissions kiosk at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin accomplishes a lot. Designed by Sanders Architecture, the 101-sf pavilion replaced a guardhouse at the end of the center’s driveway that was part of the original set of buildings by Overland Partners. Unable to keep the guardhouse staffed all the time, the center had to place a sign in the window asking visitors to pay in the bookstore. As a result, it was losing as much as 50 percent of its ticket revenue. Visitors also had trouble finding the center once they parked.
Sanders Architecture positioned the admissions kiosk between the parking lot and the center’s main buildings, where it serves as a wayfinding device. To keep the site as undisturbed as possible during construction, most of the building — with the exception of the foundation and the electrical infrastructure — was constructed off-site. This dictated the size and the materials: The steel frame was designed to be shop-fabricated, picked up by a crane, trucked to the center, and rested on its footings. By the same token, the building can be easily moved in the future, if necessary.
In addition to improving wayfinding and revenue collection, the kiosk communicates the center’s more arcane missions. “Everyone can go and pick up on the fact that they like native plants and sustainable landscapes,” says Christopher Sanders, AIA. “It takes digging deeper to discover they’re doing cutting-edge green roof research.” Native wildflowers and prairie grasses planted in the center’s proprietary recycled growing medium adorn the kiosk’s green roof and wall, which are irrigated in part by condensate captured in the AC unit. Photovoltaic panels in the awning produce about 65 percent of the building’s electricity needs, and the structure opens up for ventilation during the six months when AC is not necessary. All the materials are either locally sourced, low-VOC, recyclable, or rapidly renewable, including cork floors and cypress siding. “We were interested in LEED certification,” says Sanders, “but it’s too small to meet the minimum size for a LEED building!”