Creative Reuse, Grand Scale: Former Airport Becomes New Urbanism Project

Creative Reuse, Grand Scale: Former Airport Becomes New Urbanism Project

Amber Byfield
Oct 22, 2008

10_22_08_airportreuse.jpgHere at Re-Nest, we've been talking a lot about creative reuse: sweater arms, napkin rings, and spaghetti jars have been given new purposes in life.

But creative reuse can be done on a much larger scale. Instead of spaghetti jars, think airport hangars. So what happens when a city's got over 700 acres of defunct airport? In Austin, they make a sustainable plan and call it a "New Urban Village." And then they get to building.

In 1999, the Mueller Airport in Austin shut down its runways because a new bigger, better airport had come into town. Instead of immediately razing the Mueller space and allowing for big-box development in the area, though, the city came up with a plan.

The 711 acres are located near the heart of Austin, and with the city's rapidly growing population, it seemed the perfect fit to put more housing: but not just any housing. The Mueller plan became one of a modern urban village. "Mueller is envisioned as a sustainable community that is meeting extensive goals in housing and economic development," according to the website.

What's so cool about this development is the focus on sustainability. For starters, the former runways were deconstructed and the materials used in new road construction (with plenty of bike lanes). And the old hangars? Well, those were taken down bolt by bolt, and the materials have been used all around the new site for public spaces.

The focus of this new village is to be community-centered. When all the construction is complete, it will be a mixed-use village with schools, employment centers, shopping, and entertainment. The whole idea was to give people a chance to live without having to make such a large carbon footprint. The concept has been thought out in the different housing available: from row houses inspired by townhomes in the northeast, to garden homes (eight houses that share a central garden), to condos and apartments, to single-family houses, everything has a green slant to it.

There will be a stop for the new commuter train, on-site clean energy production, and even the city's largest community art project (that also happens to harness solar power). It is truly a remarkable way to reuse and recycle. We're very proud of our city for this massive creative reuse project!

And we're sure plenty of cities out there have done similar things...so please, share with us what your city has creatively repurposed!

Photos and illustrations via City of Austin and Google Maps.

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