Shore Vista Boat House is located on a bend in Lake Austin across from the Balcones Canyonlands Nature Preserve in Austin, Texas. The site is generative of the elliptical form that maximizes the beautiful views of the undulating hills and ribbon of water beyond. Rounded edges of the dock, along with the curved glass railing, peel away, allowing for more of the landscape to be captured into the visual frame.
Access is provided to the lake level via a series of stepping-stones and a sweeping, curved stair to the second level. The elliptical entry staircase has a gentle rise allowing wheelchair accessibility for visitors. One inspiration for the project was the Niteroi Museum in Rio by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. The entry sequence of the curvilinear concrete ramp was meticulously laid out to slowly reveal and highlight the natural beauty of the surrounding Sugarloaf Mountain, the Niteroi Beach and the bay below. In some ways this boat dock is a humble homage to the Brazilian legend’s effort to harmonize with the environment.
A lowered beach area, allowing one to ease effortlessly into the water, is strategically located at the basin of a waterfall, providing endless hours of enjoyment for the owners’ young children.
The waterfall serves several purposes, acoustically it creates a white noise to cancel out the sometimes-busy boat traffic on the lake. In the hot Texas summer it forms a misty breeze by the beach area on the first floor, creating also a physiological sense of coolness.
This boat dock is one of the first curvilinear boat docks on the lakes around central Texas, deviating from the typical orthogonal form. This project began with six structural columns built by the developer as the framework of a standard size boat dock. Structurally the roof is supported by Steel I-beams positioned above the thin steel plate, the I-beams taper toward the center to disappear from view and allow the thin steel roof to appear to float above the water.
In the owner's original program, the boat dock is designed for extensive entertaining of family, friends and business associates. The upstairs is designed to accommodate up to 16 guests for dining. The built-in seating along the elliptical half copper wall with cushions also become bunk beds for overnight accommodation.
The boat dock was designed both for entertaining large parties and a quiet retreat for the owner and their family to escape from their intense busy life in the city. The owners have been instrumental in the creative process, responding to the more adventurous direction of design.