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River Ranch County Park

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  • Family walking into a stone building with sloping metal roof.
  • Man holding a toddler standing on a sidewalk in front of a building.
  • A man standing in front of a wooden reception desk.
  • Travel trailer parked across the road from a stone building.
  • People sitting at picnic tables in a covered outdoor seating area surrounded by trees and landscaping.
  • Interior of a park bathroom with white tile walls and three stalls on the right wall.
  • Concrete path underneath a brightly colored roof.
  • A covered outdoor pavilion with a U-shaped stone bench.
  • Outdoor pavilion in a field of wildflowers.
  • A concrete path leading to a building with a slanted metal roof and a tall stone chimney.
  • Outdoor picnic tables under a brightly lit roof at dusk.

Sun Shelters for Outdoor Life

The buildings at River Ranch were developed in an agrarian building typology with the intent to make shade for park visitors. This typology was articulated to address five types of buildings, including general use pavilions, a bathhouse, the Headquarters, and the Interpretive Center. Each building features a formal variation of a common hip roof with deep, low-hanging eaves, and structural steel ridge caps and gutters.

  • Site map showing location of the Interpretive Center and other park amenities.

    River Ranch County Park site plan.

  • Diagram of two buildings, their roofs, and the building floor plans.

    Conditioned buildings include the Headquarters and the Interpretive Center (L to R).

  • Diagram of three roof structures.

    Unconditioned buildings include the Small Pavilions, Bathhouse, and Large Pavilion (L to R).

Project Details

In the Texas Hill Country, between Leander and Liberty Hill, River Ranch County Park preserves and conserves over 1,350 acres of former ranch land along the South Fork San Gabriel River. Owned and operated by the Williamson County Parks Department, the land will offer visitors miles of hiking, biking, and riding trails along with tent and RV campsites. The Day-Use area features a large pavilion, playground, horseshoe pits, and a 4,800 square foot Interpretive Center for exhibits, events, and classes. The design of the buildings takes cues from the agrarian vernacular and intense Texas heat. Expansive, corrugated metal roofs with deep overhangs provide much needed respite from the summer sun and afford ample gathering space. The simple form and understated exterior are complemented by a punch of color on the underside of the roof that defines a reference point for the landscape’s seasonal greens and creates a unique sense of place – subtly distinguishing this park from others in the visitors’ visual memory.

McKinney York Architects was the architect working with the prime consultant, Design Workshop.

 

Recognition

Texas Travel Award, Parks, 2024

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