skip to content


Completed in 2014
Design & Construction
JM Structural
Project Partners
City of Austin, YMCA Austin, Sustainable Food Center, John Hart Asher, JE Dunn

This project, the first “artist-led community garden” in Austin, treats utilitarian infrastructure as a creative opportunity.  It investigates how public art can support and amplify the diverse goals of community gardening – including to bring people together, provide locally-grown produce and engender stewardship.

Located at a YMCA in an underserved neighborhood, the 25,000sf garden is laid out in a radial site plan. Each slice of the ‘pie’ contains a different program – a wheelchair accessible area, raised beds for individual members, teaching plots, a fruit orchard and composting area. A ‘public spine’ allows all visitors to enjoy the demonstration and gathering areas, while member beds are enclosed by a volunteer-built sculptural fence. A hybrid toolshed and shade structure marks the entry to the garden from the adjacent parking lot.

During construction, over 100 volunteers assisted in the building of the fence and garden beds. The budget allowed for the construction of a first phase of 10,000sf, with all 50 plots ‘selling out’ on the day they became available.

Local filmmakers Flow Non-Fiction made a short documentary about the project that can be seen here.  The project also won a 2015 Architects Newspaper 'Best of Landscape' Award, was a 2014 SXSW Places By Design Finalist and was published in the May 2015 issue of Texas Architect


“Working with Thoughtbarn on Austin’s first artist-designed community garden was an absolute pleasure and a highlight of my career. The success of the project was largely dependent upon seamless coordination with YMCA staff and community stakeholders and Lucy and Robert could not have done a better job. Their inclusive process and thoughtful design created an award-winning project that has become the pride of the community and will provide sustenance for generations to come.”  Carrie Brown, Deputy Director, City of Phoenix Arts & Culture Dept (formerly Project Manager for City of Austin Art in Public Places)