Designed for Luxury

Mary Hooper |
Source: Austin Business Journal

Even though the first phase of the Domain has been around for about a year, its blend of var­ied architectural design styles and use of mature landscaping suggest it’s been in place much longer.

The plans took advantage of existing nature on the site, says Rob Stacherski, production principal at JPRA Architects. About 40 trees were reused, some relo­cated, others left in place.

“Instead of a brand-new project, this has that look that it’s been there for years,” says Stacherski. “When you go into a new proj­ect, you know it’s new. The real uniqueness to this is you see a new project, but with the large oak trees.”

Designers of the first phase of the Do­main took pains in preserving the mature trees on the property. For example, the configuration of the major retail street, Century Oaks Terrace, was dictated by existing oak trees.

In combining live, work and play concepts at The Domain, it was important to consider the dynamic of coming home to a shopping and restaurant development, says Ryan Therell, director of business develop-ment at The ‘Beck Group.

“We were really focusing on what a per­son that is coming here to shop, or to live, is dealing with on a daily basis,” he says. “We had to accommodate the end user and make sure … everything feels open.”

The $245 million mixed-use shopping center is anchored by Macy’s and Neiman Marcus and also introduced more than 35 restaurants and market-exclusive stores to Austin, among them Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton. The site includes 606,896 square feet of retail. Also included is 90,000 square feet of Class A office space.

The Residences at the Domain provide 390 units on-site, including three levels of residential space above retail, a row of townhomes and a stand-alone building.

As a mixed-use project, the residential and retail portions of The Domain were realized by two different architects.

“It takes a lot of coordination and pre­installation meetings,” says Therell. “We looked at how they move through the proj­ect and how people actually relate to the buildings.”

Both the retail and residential architects found challenges in building homes on top of stores.

Once the retail space was built, a con­crete slab was put in place for the residen­tial portion to build up from.

Tom Brink, the vice president of RTKL Associates Inc., worked on the residential architecture part of the project. Though the concrete slab provided a solid founda­tion, coordinating residential access and utilities that had to vertically penetrate through the retail level was a challenge, he says.

“There was coordination between two architects, two developers and two con­tractors. That’s about as complicated as a project gets,” Brink says.

The urban concept brought challenges as well. Narrow streets meant that fitting in utilities and easements was difficult, due to the small right-of-way contractors had to work with.

However, Brink says The Domain is driven by retail.

“We wanted to design a backdrop for the retail experience and make sure it wasn’t overpowered by the residential,” he says.

Building designs vary throughout the project to give the sense that the complex developed over time, says Brink.

In keepng with a mixed-use, community feel, the developer added gathering places, waterfeatures, and pedestrian promenades, all surrounded by high-end retail.

“It’s a new urban-type development where you can live, work and play,” says Therell.

The second phase of The Domain is ex­pected to open in fall 2009.