AUSTIN, TX—They say that going beyond one’s backyard grants one perspective. At Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol, the newly designed outdoor space aptly named The Backyard at Waller Creek grants visitors a fun vibe and lots of Texas flavor.
The aesthetic for the outdoor space, led by Dallas-based Studio 11 Design, pulls inspiration from local colors, patterns and popular attractions to stamp the design with consistent features.
“The Sheraton Austin at the Capitol, originally built in 1986, has remained a staple through Austin’s steady growth in the hotel industry over the last decade,” said Alison Schulze, project manager, Studio 11 Design. “Austin, the state’s capital, lies at the heart of Texas and remains a diverse community with a unique genetic makeup that speaks to people of all ages. It is a culture rich in education, politics, entertainment and the arts and prides itself in all things local genuine and unique.”
The Backyard is the final stage of the hotel’s full interior renovation of its public spaces. The goal was to keep it current and competitive in the city’s growing hotel market.
“The renovation of the Sheraton Austin came at a very opportunistic time in that it coincided with the revitalization of Waller Creek. Waller Creek aims to be the link between downtown and East Austin and will serve as an artery to connect and energize a city that was once divided,” she said.
Schulze noted that the client wanted something unique that would suit the aesthetic of Austin and make the property stand out against the other hotels that surround it.
“Equipped with hiking and bike trails mixed with a lattice of bridges and parks, the new creek development will run directly behind the hotel property and will allow the hotel’s newly renovated backyard to not only be a destination spot for business travelers and tourists, but also for local and pedestrian traffic alike,” she said. “The interiors are sophisticated yet comfortable. The aim of the design was to be timeless, with clean modified interpretations of traditional forms, such as the iconic capitol building and whimsical nods to the bat caves that Austin is well known for and locals and tourists gravitate toward. Local materials and vendors were used wherever possible, reinforcing Austin’s pride of all things local and authentic.”
Among the highlights are quirky elements such as a converted Airstream bar and life-size “Howdy Y’all” sign, which are both one-of-a-kind. The design team added umbrellas as well as architectural shading systems, and studied the angle of the louvers for optimal sun exposure. Fire pits are available for use in the winter.
“Looking for something we knew would be durable and contract quality, we selected teak as a material because it feels very Austin,” Schulze said. “The aging of the teak is more forgivable in this setting. There is also not a worry of pieces getting hot in the Texas sun.”