Instant Community by Carl Gromatzky, AIA
The Domain, Austin
Simon Property Group
James Grigsby, AIA; Greg Tysowski, AIA; Matt Woods;
Robert Stacherski; Chris Lentine contractor
Shenberger & Associates (structural); Kuhlmann
Design Group (MEP); Baker-Aicklen & Associates (civil); The Lighting Practice (lighting design); J. Robert Anderson (landscape); Columbus Realty Partners (residential developer); RTKL (residential architect); Alamo Architects (architect for Neiman Marcus building); Overland Partners (regional design); Beck (architect of record for parking decks) photographers
Paul Bardagjy; R. Greg Hursley
(above) Retail storefronts, with residences above, line the outdoor shopping center’s meandering esplanade. (opposite page) The architects retained several large live oak trees on the site and provided pedestrian passageways that connect parking decks to the main street.
t e x a s
a r c h i t e c t
The growing trend toward mixed-use developments in the United States is a welcome change from developments of the recent past where zoning more or less dictated single-use districts and led to an overall homogenization of our urban environment. And while they have much to offer, these new mixed-use developments have challenges to overcome if they are to thrive. It is clear that for them to function as relatively self-sufficient, sustainable communities, lessons must be incorporated from urban neighborhoods that have grown up over decades or, in some cases, centuries. Located just off MOPAC Expressway in north Austin, the Domain, developed by Simon Property Group in partnership with Endeavor Real Estate Group, is one of several mixed-use developments either recently completed or underway in the capital city. The Domain is a mixed-use center primarily focused on luxury retail as well as residential apartments, condominiums, and some commercial office space. Phase I opened in March and contains approximately 700,000 sq. ft. of retail, including Neiman Marcus and Macy’s, 400 residences, 75,000 sq. ft. of commercial office space, and structured parking. JPRA Architects of Farmington Hills, Michigan, was the architect for the retail and commercial office portion. RTKL of Dallas was the architect for the residential component. Unlike other mixed-use developments, such as the former Mueller Airport site in Austin, the Domain is not surrounded by adjacent single-family neighborhoods, and thus places more emphasis on itself as a destination. The architects used certain characteristics of the site to their advantage, particularly the eastern edge of the Balcones Escarpment that bisects the site. According to Jim Grigsby, AIA, president of JPRA Architects, one goal was to maximize the benefits of its location by using the escarpment to locate the parking decks at a level lower than that of the major retail esplanade. Existing live oaks also played a major role in the layout of the complex, contributing to the meandering nature of the main spine of the project and providing shaded seating areas such as the “Shady Grove” and landmarks for orientation. The trees not only provide much needed shade
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