We first dug up plans for the five-story, 120-room, Origin Hotel project headed for the growing Aldrich Street District of Central Austin’s Mueller neighborhood back in 2019, which feels like ancient history at this point. Though the future of the hospitality industry is a little blurry at the moment, from a broader perspective it’s honestly kind of strange that it took this long for the former airport-cum-New Urbanist experiment by national real estate developers Catellus to receive its first hotel — well, the first unless you’re counting the Residence Inn by Marriott over at 51st Street, but c’mon.
More than a year later, the Origin at Mueller project by Mississippi-based firm the Thrash Group has officially broken ground as of yesterday, though its actual timeline for completion remains up in the air. The hotel’s 0.4-acre site at 1825 McBee Street is just north of the Thinkery children’s museum and east of the Aldrich Street Paseo — that’s the pedestrian promenade with the umbrellas running through the area’s retail operations including the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub.
The hotel’s design arrives from celebrated locals Lake Flato, originally out of San Antonio but now sporting an Austin office, and their people clearly stay busy — we looked at another hotel with the firm’s name on it last week, after all. The Origin project actually seems to share some vague similarities with the recently-opened Canopy by Hilton, partially because they’re hotels of similar size and room count, but also because Lake Flato likes its bricks. (We also like bricks.) The Origin’s interior courtyard space by landscape architects Studio Balcones also feels very similar to the Canopy building — if you look closely, they even have (almost) the same fireplace!
The new hotel was designed by Lake Flato and Lusk Architecture, while Flick Mars provided the interior architecture design and Studio Balcones designed the courtyard. Origin was designed to fit into its surrounding urban context, complementing the existing structures in the area. The exterior brick utilized is from local Texas plants. The use of board formed concrete references the adjacent building (the Mueller Diamond Building), and the use of corrugated metal wall and roof panels compliments the adjacent Thinkery children’s museum.
The layout of the hotel was also designed to fit into its context, highlighting views to an interior courtyard that opens towards the Aldrich Street Paseo. The overall effect is simple industrial materials carefully assembled in surprising and elegant ways that blend into the nearby urban fabric. The development team is pursuing LEED-Silver and Austin Energy Green Building three-star certification.
— Origin at Mueller Groundbreaking Announcement
Along with a restaurant and bar, the hotel is building an additional 5,000 square feet of future street-level retail space to compliment the rest of the district’s growth, which includes significant office and retail development along with a 406-unit AMLI Residential apartment project, the developer’s third at Mueller. Do you think the folks at Catellus have figured out what to do with the old airport’s control tower yet?