Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
The Sixth&Blanco project in Austin, Texas encompasses a full city block of mixed-use, infill development on West Sixth Street. Adjacent to downtown and the Colorado River, the project’s location – combined with the existing vernacular storefronts, restaurants, stores, galleries, generous tree-lined streets, and the walkable character of the surrounding neighborhood – have made it one of Austin’s most desirable areas.
The challenge and potential of the project is to propose an architecture that takes key ingredients from its surrounding context and distributes them throughout a dense yet permeable program: generous greenery, passively cooled indoor/outdoor spaces, an active neighborhood storefront, and the use of a natural material palette aligned with the historic fabric. A continuous wooden structure fills the entire site between existing historic buildings.
City Block as Village
Organized as a dense village, all functions are accessed from exterior courtyards, passages, terraces, walkways, and bridges, taking full advantage of Austin’s predominantly mild climate. The program is horizontally arranged: shops and restaurants occupy the ground floor, further retail and event spaces occupy the second floor, a 57-room hotel with a swimming pool is located on the third floor, and ten private residences are located on the fourth and fifth floors. The exterior spaces are lushly planted and arranged to provide passive cooling and shading, especially during the hot summer months.
The building steps back from the street and decreases in density as it rises. At all levels, the project brings a human scale and a sense of domestic comfort to its occupants – instead of a singular uniform gesture, the project is a sum of its many individual parts.
All 57 rooms of the hotel are arranged along a network of open streets, which lead to two open public spaces – the bar and the hotel swimming pool. Both public areas are placed adjacent to the courtyards below.
Similar to the classic bungalow typology found in the adjacent neighborhoods, each hotel room has its own porch and densely planted garden; the bathroom is directly adjacent to this private exterior space. The rooms offer an intimate indoor/outdoor guest experience, taking full advantage of Austin’s climate.
The material palette fits the region and climate; clay plaster walls, ceramic floors and wooden ceilings carry through from the interior of the hotel room to the porch outside, making the interior and exterior space feel as continuous as possible.
Ten residences are arranged on the two upper levels of the building, their varied rooflines forming a heterogeneous silhouette. The living spaces of each residence are located at the top floor in an open loft-like wooden structure, each under its own distinct pitched roof. The kitchen, dining room and grand room are arranged in one continuous space, connected to a planted entry court, light courts, and a front terrace with garden and swimming pool. Millwork and a fireplace divide the open space into specific zones, each with its own relationship to exterior spaces. A circular stair links the living areas to the bedroom level below; a library acts as an “entre-chambre” connecting the bedrooms and master suite. All bedrooms have a private exterior terrace with an outward-facing bathroom. The master suite has a large private exterior terrace, connecting both the master bedroom and bathroom. Each residence offers a true indoor/outdoor dwelling experience.
The spa is carved into the rocks of the site at the northeast corner. Adjacent to a deeply cut light court, the visitor enters a wooden mezzanine level with sauna, massage rooms and dressing rooms. At its center, the mezzanine is cut away, opening to a double height space where pools are arranged in a descending fashion, bringing the visitor down to the court level. Between the descending pools, stone slabs allow areas for rest and relaxation. At the lower level, pools are carved out of a limestone mineral environment, connecting to the outside court and a large exterior pool. The spa offers a unique quarry-like experience, with a strong relationship between the inside and outside pools.
Environment & Energy
The project aims to reduce energy loads through passive cooling measures, collect rainwater for irrigation, and harvest solar energy where possible. The structure is made out of pre-fabricated mass timber and concrete elements, which greatly limits the grey energy released during construction compared to a similar all-concrete building.
This construction method is combined with a versatile, non-directional structural grid to allow for future transformation as the needs of the building and the surroundings evolve – especially on the ground and first floors, where commercial office, retail, hotel or residential usages can be accommodated in the future. On the hotel and residential floors above, the timber construction also allows for the creation of larger spaces by combining a grouping of smaller volumes.
The structure is clad in brick and wood, relating to the vernacular fabric surrounding the site, particularly the residential Clarksville neighborhood. On the lower, mostly public levels, timber cladding is brushed and given a protective white paint finish. On the hotel level, naturally finished wood is used in a board-and-batten pattern, lining the common passages. Sitting above these wood-clad volumes, the residences are clad in a white-washed brick with varied coursing that articulates slab edges and planting beds.
Passive cooling concepts are applied on all levels; recessed facades with awnings, exterior shading, and porch spaces cut direct solar gain, thereby reducing cooling loads. Shaded outdoor spaces with plantings and water features double as circulation spaces on all levels, omitting the need for climatized interior circulation spaces. Photovoltaics are integrated wherever possible and prominently featured in colored, reflective awnings, marking the project along West Sixth Street.
- Project Team
- Lukasz Szlachcic (Associate, Project Director)
- Bruno de Almeida Martins (Visualizations)
- Marta Benedetti
- Javier de Cárdenas Canomanuel
- Catarina Croft
- Casper Dam
- Giulio Delle Sedie
- Sahng O Lee
- Veronika Mayr
- Benjamin Muller
- Maximilian Musiol
- Richard Nelson-Chow (Project Architect)
- Enrico Ricci
- Martina Rotilio
- Roel Schiffers
- Philip Schmerbeck (Associate)
- Hugh Taylor
- Pablo Toubes-Rieger
- Elliott Friedman
- Nathaniel Leazer
- Carly Dean (Project Architect)
- Jack Wathieu
- Laurent Boutin-Neveu
- Clarks Village LP
- This project was developed in collaboration with an architect licensed in Texas acting as the "Architect of Record". Herzog & de Meuron is not licensed to practice architecture in the state of Texas.
- Design Consultant : Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland
- Executive Architect : Page Southerland Page, Austin, TX, USA
- Structural Engineering: Fast + Epp, Vancouver, BC, Canada
- MEP Engineering: Bay & Associates, Austin, TX, USA
- Landscape Architect: Ten Eyck Landscape Architect, Austin, TX, USA
- Specialist / Consulting
- Civil Engineering: WGI Austin, Austin, TX, USA
- Sustainability Consulting: Atelier Ten USA LLC, New York, NY, USA
- Facade Consulting: Front Inc, New York, NY, USA
- Facade Consulting: CDC Consulting Inc, Dallas, TX, USA
- Geotechnic Consulting: Henley Johnston & Associates Inc., Dallas, TX, USA
- Acoustic Consulting: SLR Consulting, Houston, TX, USA
- Parking Consulting: HWA Parking, Austin, TX, USA
- Fire Protection Consulting: Coffman Engineers, Irving, TX, USA
- Vertical Circulation Consulting: Persohn Hahn Associates Inc., Tomball, TX, USA
- Building Code Consulting: LCCP LLC, Austin, TX, USA
- Accessibility and Fair Housing Consulting: Contour Collective, Austin, TX, USA
- Traffic Consulting: BOE Consulting, Austin, TX, USA
- Lighting Consultant: Dot Dash, New York, NY, USA
- Spa Consultant: Perfect Wellness, New York, NY, USA
- Pool Consultant: Aqua Design, New York, NY, USA
- General Contractor : Flintco LLC, Austin, TX, USA
- Building Data
- Site Area: 82'882 sqft, 7'700 sqm
- Gross floor area (GFA): 308'923 sqft, 28'700 sqm
- GFA above ground: 160'382 sqft, 14'900 sqm
- GFA below ground: 148'541 sqft, 13'800 sqm
- Number of levels: 5
- Footprint: 74'270 sqft, 6'900 sqm
- Length: 334 ft, 102 m
- Width: 196 ft, 60 m
- Height: 72 ft, 22 m