Hotel Magdalena courtyard evokes Hill Country canyon

1 month ago 28
October 06, 2022

After an all-day gathering connected South Congress recently, I strolled down Music Lane to Hotel Magdalena, a boutique edifice that opened successful 2020. I’d been wanting to spot the spot since learning that Ten Eyck Landscape Architects did the landscaping and Lake|Flato Architects designed the edifice itself.

If you aren’t already acquainted with their iconic work, instrumentality a look astatine Ten Eyck’s Kingsbury Commons astatine Pease Park and Lake|Flato’s Central Library successful downtown Austin. The 2 firms are making the spaces that specify today’s Austin done modern yet earthy, sustainable, outdoors-celebrating design.

Hotel Magdalena sits connected a hill, and the lobby is tucked off-street connected the 2nd level, accessible via elevator oregon up a tree-shaded formation of stairs. One of Ten Eyck’s signature moves is turning a building’s facade into a greenish partition with high-climbing vines connected rusty mesh trellising.

Hotel Magdalena’s groovy neon sign

Near the entrance, I was amused by an exhortation connected a model to “confess here.” Later I looked up Song Confessional and discovered it’s an interactive euphony project:


Started by Austin musicians, Walker Lukens and Zac Catanzaro, Song Confessional was initially conceived arsenic a euphony festival activation. Beginning this summer, Song Confessional’s communicative signaling booth volition unrecorded permanently astatine Hotel Magdalena.

Come connected down to the booth 8 americium – 8 p.m. to recount immoderate benignant of communicative – old, new, long, short, coming of age, food retired of h2o – we’re each ears. Confessions volition beryllium reviewed by section songwriters, and prime stories volition beryllium developed into archetypal songs with the accidental to beryllium featured connected the Song Confessional podcast. Selected confessors volition person their archetypal opus pressed into a 7″ record.”

I benignant of privation to spell backmost and confess a bully story!

American beautyberry pressed against a mesh step railing

A practice unrecorded oak preserved during operation lives connected betwixt 2 of the hotel’s buildings, seeming to propulsion its limbs against the walls. Its canopy is bladed — I anticipation it makes it! Under its invited shade, stairs ascent from the thoroughfare to the main courtyard.

Potted tropicals greenish up the lobby’s porch, including 1 works perched atop a chromatic mushroom.

Inside the tiny lobby, solid doors connection a large presumption of the courtyard garden. Let’s spell research it.

And here’s wherever Ten Eyck’s native-centric plan truly comes to life. Does this look similar immoderate different edifice courtyard you’ve seen? There’s nary default lawn. No tightly clipped hedges. No rows of Crayola-bright annuals. No dense paving. Instead, lush artifact plantings of autochthonal Texas plants including grasses, palmettos, bald cypress, American beautyberry, Turk’s cap, and yucca, on with nonnative Mexican sycamore, capable terraced beds that hardly tame a steep slope.

Chunky blocks of limestone placed successful a loose, astir zigzag statement signifier the terraces of a reimagined Hill Country canyon wall. A pipe-fed watercourse arcs into a Corten ringing surrounded by moisture-loving h2o clover — a stylized canyon spring? When the bald cypress and different trees capable out, the abstraction volition beryllium much shady and adjacent much evocative of a canyon’s trickling walls.

The lipid tube fountain and alloy basin

The quarry artifact limestone has a fascinating signifier connected the facing edge, similar a web of histrion roots. What is this — fossils?? Somebody volition know, I hope.

This summertime was unusually harsh — the 2nd hottest successful Austin’s recorded past — and the plants were inactive a spot stressed connected this 100-degree mid-September day. But considering however caller everything is, planted conscionable 2 years ago, the landscaping seems to person held up beauteous well. Best of all, the plantings are irrigated with storm-water runoff and HVAC condensate harvested from the buildings, according to Ten Eyck’s description.

A broadside presumption of the zigzagging limestone blocks and tube fountain

Stairs pb up to the outdoor barroom and swimming pool, and from present you get a amended consciousness of Lake|Flato’s architectural design. Five buildings situation the cardinal courtyard, connected via covered breezeways. Each level enjoys generous porches with seating overlooking the courtyard. As with each Lake|Flato designs, the extremity is to promote radical to beryllium outside, with earthy breezes, fans, and shadiness creating comfort.

The edifice is also the archetypal mass-timber boutique edifice constructed successful North America. What is wide timber, you whitethorn ask? It’s “comprised of aggregate coagulated wood panels nailed oregon glued together, which supply exceptional spot and stability. It’s a strong, low-carbon alternate to factual and steel,” according to Think Wood.

Seating connected the terrace bar

I lone took a speedy peek astatine the pool, wherever bathers were enjoying the prima and water. The angular signifier of the long, constrictive excavation is reminiscent of Barton Springs Pool. A “live” borderline wherever the chromatic paving meets artificial turf adds to the effect of a natural, spring-fed swimming pool.

Back connected the main level I admired silvery bluish palmettos nether a Mexican sycamore.

A way leads…

…to a modestly sized lawsuit lawn, with drawstring lights overhead and umbrella-shaded chairs each around.

The hotel’s restaurant, Summer House connected Music Lane, is connected my database of places to try. The patio is shady and inviting.

Every Bunkhouse edifice — Bunkhouse owns Hotel Magdalena on with arsenic hep Hotel San José, Hotel Saint Cecilia, Carpenter Hotel, Austin Motel, and much — is fixed a communicative that informs its design. Lake civilization informs Hotel Magdalena, according to an interrogation with Bunkhouse’s CEO successful Forbes:

“Lake civilization was an inspiration due to the fact that it’s what radical successful Austin bash successful the summertime to woody with the heat. It’s portion of the cloth of the metropolis and a large portion of the vibe that radical autumn successful emotion with. Simple pleasures, hanging retired with friends and their dogs connected the water, grilling, swimming, listening to oregon playing music. It’s fun, casual and relaxed, which is what this edifice is. The consciousness of the edifice draws inspiration from the 70s epoch which is specifically absorbing conscionable due to the fact that of the richness of the euphony country and the lore of that clip – a sleepy but fun-loving and rebellious assemblage municipality that someway fused an underground free-love societal civilization with cowboy culture. It was the epoch that created the Austin radical emotion today.”

Forbes, Sep 28, 2020

That specified a nostalgic presumption of Old Austin inspires the look of New Austin is nary uncertainty ironic to the old-timers hanging connected successful our booming, urbanized, abruptly ridiculously costly city. Austin tin consciousness unrecognizable from period to month, arsenic apartments, hotels, and tear-downs sprout up seemingly overnight connected once-sleepy streets. And yet Austin has someway kept that friendly, laid-back vibe and wild, earthy quality that draws radical present and tells them this is home.

Music Lane streetscape

I look guardant to returning to Hotel Magdalena to bask a repast successful that beauteous courtyard and soak up Old Austin nostalgia successful a New Austin setting.

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The Oct. 20th Garden Spark speech “Black Flora” by writer Teresa Speight is connected merchantability now, and you’re invited! Teri volition beryllium sharing stories of pioneering Black florists, floral activists, and angiosperm farmers doing unthinkable enactment crossed the U.S. Her profiles of these unstoppable creatives successful Black Flora are uplifting and inspiring; check retired my publication review for much info. Come articulation america and conscionable Teri astatine her speech and publication signing. Seating is limited, and tickets indispensable beryllium purchased successful advance.

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