Last week, I was at the newly developing Northside section of The Domain, for a Drink and Click. The Domain, like many new mall developments, combines stores and restaurants with apartments, office space and even hotels. Done right, they have the feel of a traditional downtown.
Documenting the still developing area, I was impressed with the way it was progressing. The Archer Hotel appears to be the centerpiece with a constellation of would be stores, with their facades covered by black plywood panels. A gentleman standing next to me commented that he built that hotel.
Rusty turned out to the head honcho for the hotel’s development company. He offered to give me a tour of the work in progress. I’ve always had an interest in architecture and construction, so I jumped at the chance. And, as I’ll explain later, I have a special interest in this hotel.
The Archer is a small boutique hotel chain with locations in New York City and Napa, California. It’s kind of neat to have such an upscale hotel in Austin, particularly in the northern suburbs, far away from downtown. We entered on the 2nd floor and grand staircase impressed, looking down into the lobby.
I’m no expert in interior design but to my untrained eye, the hotel appears to mix modern design, with Texas vernacular, interspersed with bits of whimsy. I think it works well. It feels fresh and new, but doesn’t feel cold like some modern spaces. It’s clearly an upscale place but doesn’t appear to take itself too seriously.
The chandelier and stairwell certainly impresses architecturally and I’m looking forward to seeing it fully furnished. As you can see, it’s truly a work in progress. Rusty says they have about month and a half before it’s completed. I feel lucky that I got an advanced tour.
The other notable area is the atrium that houses the bar and restaurant, which is next to the lobby. There’s a nice scale to the place. In a midsize market like Austin, it’s a sizable hotel, even for downtown. But remember, this is located in a shopping mall.
With the surrounding bars and restaurants, already brimming with business, I think the Northside will steal customers from downtown. It caters better to suburbanites that value convenience, easy parking and cleanliness over a “real” and often gritty downtown.
Throughout the hotel, there are large-scale photographs of Austin and the surrounding areas — that have been turned into wall coverings. Many of the hotel rooms have their own theme and unique photo walls. This room has a scene from 6th street, for example.
I mentioned my special interest in the Archer and that’s because they licensed this photograph from me. I shot this with a 16MP Olympus E-PM2 and the Panasonic 14mm f2.5 with the wide-angle adapter. I also did the post processing to the specifications dictated by the interior designer. As you can see there is a complex mix of color and monochrome.
I licensed the photograph almost a year ago and I wasn’t sure if the hotel was actually going to be built. Nice to see it for real and nearing completion. I’m hoping to go back when the room is fully furnished.
This larger room had a fancy open plan bathroom with this sculptural tub. Luckily, the walls can be closed for added privacy.
Finally, the corner rooms are particularly fancy, resembling upscale one bedroom condos. They have their own balcony, and a spectacular bathroom with floor to ceiling two-tone subway tiles. You can see the reflection of Blue Bonnets in the mirrors. This is yet another photo wall covering, of the Texas state flower, which blooms in the spring through the surrounding Hill Country.
I’m looking forward to the completion on the Archer and perhaps they’ll let me take high quality photos of the place. I shot these with my humble Panasonic ZS50 point and shoot. Not bad, I guess. But high quality photos on tripod will be my preferred way to document the place.
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