Fairmont Unveils Its Largest Hotel in the U.S. in Austin
By Trish Donnally Public Relations Manager, Perkins Eastman | March 18, 2018
The soaring new Fairmont Austin, with its ethereal blue/grey curtain wall, is a game changer. In addition to being Austin's largest hotel with 1,048 guest rooms, it is also Fairmont's largest property in the United States, and its second largest hotel globally. Gensler, the master planner, site planner, and architect, was challenged by developer Manchester Texas Financial Group with creating a hotel that would surpass anything previously found in the city.
"When designing the exterior of the new Fairmont Austin, Gensler and Manchester envisioned an iconic, experientially excellent, smart, sustainable, world class hotel. We saw it as a pursuit of simplicity, to give order to a complex program of spaces and needs. This clarity gives the guest a place of sanctuary from the modern world," said David Epstein, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Principal/Design Director at Gensler, who led the design of the Fairmont Austin.
"Our family has trusted Art Gensler and his team for many years in delivering the highest water marks in architectural design," said Douglas W. Manchester, president of Manchester Texas Financial Group, developer and owner of Fairmont Austin. "We approached Fairmont Austin as a genuine opportunity to introduce a timeless and iconic design to Austin's skyline. The quality and sophistication of their curtain wall design along with the curved glass surrounding the podium has a perfect juxtaposition of elegance and progressive style. A design that honors the history and welcomes in a new era. We couldn't be prouder of the finished product. It is indeed timeless."
The graceful luxury hotel, which opened March 5, 2018 in time for the SXSW Conference and Festivals, already holds a commanding presence in Austin as the second tallest building in the city at 590 feet. With nothing around it even close to that tall, it owns its place in the sky too. The 37-story tower projects a mysterious, ephemeral quality, reflecting drifting cumulus clouds and everchanging light from sunrise to sunset. At times, it seems to become almost one with the wide-open Texas sky.
"The new Fairmont acts as a gateway to Austin and a direct addition to the (Neal Kocurek Memorial Austin) Convention Center," Epstein said.
Thomas Phifer and Partners of New York and Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates designed an undulating elevated walk that directly connects Fairmont Austin to the convention center. Guests traverse beneath canopies of carefully preserved mature trees, including two American elms, a pecan, and a box elder along the walk. San Francisco-based Warren Sheets Design Inc. designed the interiors of the Fairmont Austin blurring the boundaries between indoors and outdoors by bringing life-size trees into the lobbies and lounge, among other design gestures, while dwg. designed the exterior landscaping honoring the critical ecosystem of nearby Waller Creek.