A Lawn of One’s Own

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Living downtown doesn’t have to mean giving up backyard grilling.

Downtown Austin residents know something that the rest of us might not suspect: Living in a downtown condo doesn’t have to mean forfeiting outdoor recreation space.

Walk around downtown, and you’ll see gleaming residential towers rising from the street. Sleek? Absolutely. Luxurious? No doubt. But green? Surprisingly so.

“The opportunity was to provide an amenity terrace that was an Austin backyard,” said Daniel Woodroffe, formerly a principal of TBG Partners and now owner and president of the landscape architecture studio dwg. He was the principal- in-charge and lead designer for the Austonian’s outdoor spaces while at TBG Partners. “The core vision for the Austonian as a whole was ‘a higher level of living’. It’s got a fantastic amenity terrace with a competition-length pool, herb garden, lawn area—even a dog lawn—grills, cabanas, and hot tubs. There’s a level of convenience but also a level of familiarity. This is your home, your backyard, and it just so happens that you’re sharing it.”

Even though the Austonian’s amenity deck is a shared space, Woodroffe said it was designed to have a series of outdoor rooms that create more intimate spaces within the larger amenity deck. A stunning pool overlooks the heart of downtown and acts as a common area.

At The Spring, a few blocks west of the Austonian, a 75-foot pool is also a focal point of the outdoor amenity area. That space opens up from a lounge and gym area and has lush landscaping that’s mostly indigenous.

Martin Weinkove, the association manager and building director for The Spring and for Barton Place, said both condos have common garden areas for residents.

Mark Halsell, a resident at The Spring, said as a downtown resident you get to know other condo-dwellers and the characteristics that each building’s residents have. Where the 360 has a younger and more social crowd, The Spring’s residents tend to be second homeowners and are a bit quieter. Each condo’s pool area reflects the type of resident it houses, he added, and as he’s gotten to know other downtown residents, he’s gotten in plenty of pool-hopping.

His favorite? For the view, he said you can’t beat the Four Seasons.

Woodroffe may disagree—he noted that the Austonian’s pool is on its 10th floor, and that means you can take a swim and be at the same level as the Capitol building nine blocks north.

Even man’s best friend has a luxurious amenity space at the Austonian. The dog spa and grooming area, while still at the drawing board, gained an additional 600 square feet of dog park, complete with synthetic grass, when brainstorming led to what Woodroffe called a harebrained idea that’s become the cornerstone of the entire outdoor area.

A filtration system below the synthetic grass at the building’s dog park uses layers of material to remove odor, and a soft cleansing system flushes liquid waste out.

And if Austonian residents want to garden, they have that option too. The amenity deck was designed to support a native landscape and green roof, and Woodroffe said condo owners have enthusiastically taken on some of the landscape maintenance and converted some of the shrub beds into communal gardens. The whole building almost acts as an ecosystem, thanks to the green design.

Underneath the swimming pool, a series of water tanks collect water coming off the air conditioning on the roof, and that water is then used for irrigation. Every year that self-collecting system saves nearly one million gallons of water, Woodroffe said, and it has earned the condo a four-star green building rating from the city.

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