A five-story mixed-use project bringing retail, hotel, office, and residential space to more than two acres along West Sixth Street near downtown Austin is headed for the demolition phase. Sixth & Blanco, a new name for the plan first announced last summer as Clarksvillage, imagines a large-scale destination for the neighborhoods west of downtown courtesy of developers Riverside Resources, working in partnership with prolific local hotel and dining firm MML Hospitality and the acclaimed Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron.
Demolition permits filed over the last few weeks for properties along West Sixth Street show the massive scope of the plan, with affected properties including 1110, 1112, 1114, 1116, 1120, 1124, 1126, and 1130 West Sixth Street. While non-historic structures like the former home of Z Tejas at 1110 West Sixth Street will be fully demolished, due to historic preservation concerns several of the existing buildings on this block will be partially deconstructed or otherwise modified to be integrated into the new development, including preserved and reconstructed facades for the buildings at 1116 and 1124 West Sixth Street. Four buildings close to the corner of Sixth and Blanco Streets will also be preserved, including the storefronts at 1126 and 1128 West Sixth Street and two buildings to the rear of the site at 605 and 607 Blanco Street. The project and its various adaptations of the 1920s-era buildings along this block secured the approval of the Historic Landmark Commission last year.
It’s a lot to take in, but the bottom line is that alongside its hotel use, office space, and residences on the floors above, the plan will bring roughly a dozen new retail and restaurant spaces to this block, all connected by a walkable internal courtyard. Herzog & de Meuron’s design for the space uses mass timber, an engineered wood material that is increasingly popular in lieu of concrete and steel due to its warm aesthetics and sustainable properties. It also smells great!
The Sixth & Blanco project in Austin, Texas encompasses a full city block of mixed-use, infill development in the Sixth & Blanco Street district. Adjacent to downtown and the Colorado river, the project’s location – combined with the existing vernacular store fronts, notable restaurants, stores, galleries, generous tree-lined streets, and the walkable character of the surrounding Clarksville neighborhood – have made it one of Austin’s most desirable districts.
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 materials palette aligned with the historic fabric.
The project fills the site with a continuous horizontal wooden structure. An urban carpet of shops and restaurants occupy the full ground floor, offices the second floor, a hotel on the third floor and residences on the fourth and fifth floors. From a pedestrian vantage point, the building is perceived as a series of two-story structures organized around planted courtyards. The project steps back from the street and decreases in density as it grows taller, allowing for a network of exterior circulation spaces with gardens, courtyards and porches on all levels. The project brings a human scale and a sense of domestic comfort to all – instead of a singular uniform gesture, the project is a complex sum of its many individual parts.
— Herzog & de Meuron
The recent permits for the site don’t indicate a start date, but documents related to the project from last year state that demolition could begin here sometime this summer. It’s one of the largest single developments we’ve ever seen in this downtown-adjacent region, and it’s hard to imagine anyone taking issue with the impressive design seen here — especially now that the developers aren’t using the name “Clarksvillage,” which apparently ruffled some feathers last year since the site isn’t technically inside the Clarksville neighborhood. Hey, you can’t please everybody!