No Lifeguard on Duty is sited at a unique location on Waller Creek where an aging weir allows the creek’s water to pool and where steps along the creek’s edge invite visitors to dip their feet in the cool water.
The annual Creek Show is intended to activate Waller Creek to help the city of Austin reconsider it as part of the public realm.
Imagination is a radical act in the urban realm. While Waller Creek has served as a floodway for the city, it is important to reconsider how a community interacts with and considers this watershed as it is re-integrated into public space.
After opening the show, this installation immediately became interactive. People were jumping on the pool floats, touching the water, and claiming the space as their own.
Waller Creek is undergoing a multi-phase redesign to preserve and reintegrate it into public spaces through the city. The Waterloo Greenway Conservancy, City of Austin, and other local stakeholders are engaging the downtown community to re-envision how Waller Creek fits into the public realm as they revitalize the greenway. The annual Creek Show is part of that effort. Austin has a deeply ingrained swimming hole culture that has helped many other naturally-fed bodies of water define the identity of the city, but different considerations need to be made for waterways like Waller Creek that will not support that sort of engagement.
The installation, entitled No Lifeguard on Duty, was developed as a response to a site along the creek below the 8th Street bridge, but was inspired by cultural elements found elsewhere in Austin, as well as a desire to create an immersive and interactive project. Waller Creek is an urban waterway that has its own complex identity, a composite place influenced by both downtown and the larger watershed. No Lifeguard on Duty proposes a pool club for a waterway that will never have one. Here you can relax by the pool serenaded by the lights and sounds of the Red River cultural district, mingle with other pool-goers, or party till the sun comes up. But remember, there’s no lifeguard on duty.