Hotel San Cristobal featured in Vogue

Why Everyone You Know Is Suddenly Going to Todos Santos, Mexico

Now, a whole new set of travelers is setting their sights on another treasure at the end of a dirt road: the just-opened Hotel San Cristobal.
— Christina Perez
Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

A peek into the process

A drawing goes through many stages before it's ready for construction. Hand drawings are a great way to work through several ideas quickly. They also often show the soft, blended nature of planting better than a computer generated drawing can. Here are a few examples from our office:

Mark Word Design has moved!

After a long residency on the East Side, Mark Word Design has moved!

Our new home will be at 2201 North Lamar Blvd..

Stay tuned for some snaps of our new space when we're all settled in!

Austin Motel featured in Garden & Gun

Inside Look: The Austin Motel

 

Garden & Gun magazine did a feature on the recent remodel at the Austin Motel. Mark Word Design is honored to be a part of the design team on this Austin landmark. Right on South Congress, Austin Motel is a perfect vacation or staycation spot.

PHOTO: NICK SIMONITE

PHOTO: NICK SIMONITE

PHOTO: NICK SIMONITE

PHOTO: NICK SIMONITE

PHOTO: NICK SIMONITE

PHOTO: NICK SIMONITE

“Everything flowed from the sign and from the time periods [in the hotel’s history] that were meaningful to me—1930s for molding and detail, 1950s for color schemes, and 1980s for pop art. To be honest, we didn’t change all that much.”
— Liz Lambert

PILLOW TANKS AND IMPERVIOUS COVERAGE

Sometimes when you're working on a property with an old Austin house, you have to get creative when it comes to meeting code.

On a recent project, MWD needed to secure a pool permit for a property whose existing impervious coverage was at 75%. Typically when a property undergoes a major renovation, steps must be taken to bring the property up to regulations. The percent impervious coverage allowed in this area is 45%.

In order to obtain a permit, we would first need a variance from the Board of Adjustments. Variances are granted when conditions on the site offer no other options. Between the existing house footprint, steep slope of the site, the CRZ limitations of a Heritage Live Oak, and the current drainage solutions protecting the home, there was no design solution that would have made the site compliant.

A site plan showing the existing site conditions. 

A site plan showing the existing site conditions. 

 
A site plan showing the proposed solution.

A site plan showing the proposed solution.

 

In this instance MWD employed a two-part strategy to reach the City of Austin's current zoning regulations. We were able to eliminate 11% of the impervious coverage on site by replacing it with pervious material and planting. We worked with Harvested Rain Solutions, LLC to install two rainwater pillow tanks under the house -- storing 1,700 gallons of roof rainwater. By capturing 76% of the rainwater from the roof, we mitigate a significant amount of runoff. The captured rainwater serves as a source for irrigation and on-site retention. 

The water collection plan.

The water collection plan.

 

Harvested Rain Solutions, LLC designed and installed pillow tank system located below the house, in the pier and beam crawlspace. The tanks are completely hidden from view.

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greenhaven_installation-1e9b250f9e.jpg

Using these techniques, MWD was able to secure a variance to impervious coverage and install a pool -- transforming a concrete driveway into a back yard retreat! See the finished product below.

BEFORE

BEFORE

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER

AFTER

AFTER

Texas ASLA Honor Award 2017

We are very proud to announce that our project, the Balcones Residence, has been selected for a Texas ASLA Honor Award for 2017!

 

A brief description of the project:

A controlled landscape palette of natural limestone, gravel, raw steel and low-maintenance plants offers a calming counterbalance to the modern, bold architecture of this hillside residence.  Playing with form and volume, the collaborative design team of architect, landscape architect, contractor and client, used negative space as the guiding landscape principle for this modern Austin residence.  

With twenty-five feet of vertical grade change and soils of limestone bedrock, this 0.4 acre site offered perplexing way finding and planting challenges.  Circulation was addressed by playing up the negative space between the two concrete architectural volumes. 

With such a steep climb, purposeful grading was paramount in achieving a successful balance between built and natural elements.  Controlled grading was executed to expose the natural beatify of the site.  The use of an air-spade allowed the landscape crew to methodically and gently expose layers of the creamy, limestone bedrock which anchors the pool terrace.  This weathered limestone ledge provides a soft break between the flat pool terrace and the grass-filled hillside.

Thick blocks of limestone are stacked to form an easy scramble up to the existing bird’s-eye overlook, and skyline views of downtown. 

Invasive plant species were eradicated and replaced with low-water use plants, which also gave way for existing, healthy plant material to flourish.  A light touch to the landscape was critical in highlighting the natural beauty of the site while meeting the client’s goal of a low water, and low-maintenance landscape.   

In the end, restricting the landscape palette and adhering to the landscape design principle of celebrating negative space produced a powerful landscape that anchors the modern architecture into its natural hillside.

 

For more images, please see: Balcones Residence

 

Team: Mell Lawrence Architects, Pilgrim

 

DINE UNDER THE OAK TREES AT MATTIE'S, THE NEW RESTAURANT AT GREEN PASTURES

We are so thrilled to be working on the landscape at the iconic Green Pastures in South Austin. Mattie's, the new restaurant, has officially opened and the gorgeous space is getting a lot of attention. 

 

Behold Green Pastures’ Exquisite New Restaurant Mattie’s

Photography by Robert J. Lerma via Austin Eater

Photography by Robert J. Lerma via Austin Eater

After a long hibernation and renovation, Green Pastures is finally reopening today with a few changes. Most notably, this includes the debut of a new restaurant, Mattie’s. The name stems from the nickname of one of the original owners of Green Pastures, Martha “Mattie” Miner Faulk.
— Nadia Chaudhury for Austin Eater
 

First Look: Mattie's Grows New South Austin Roots

Photography by Nick Simonite for Zagat

Photography by Nick Simonite for Zagat

The spacious patio, which is lit by twinkling lights, offers plenty of outdoor seating and will soon feature live music on weekends. And, most importantly, the iconic Green Pastures peacocks still roam the oak-shaded property in all their jewel-tone glory.
— Veronica Meewes for Zagat

mark word design at sxsw 2017

We love to see people having fun at our projects. SXSW was a blast this year!

 

 

sxsw at hotel san jose

 

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sxsw at hotel saint cecilia

See one of our projects in Wall Street Journal Magazine: Hotel San Cristóbal

Mark Word Design had the pleasure of working on the landscape of Hotel San Cristóbal, a beautiful new hotel in Todos Santos, Mexico.  Read more about it in Wall Street Journal Magazine (link below).

BEFORE SUNSET | A view from Bunkhouse Group’s new Hotel San Cristóbal in Todos Santos, Mexico. Photo: Pia Riverola for WSJ. Magazine

BEFORE SUNSET | A view from Bunkhouse Group’s new Hotel San Cristóbal in Todos Santos, Mexico. Photo: Pia Riverola for WSJ. Magazine

THE LIFE AQUATIC | The pool area of Hotel San Cristóbal, which overlooks Playa Punta Lobos. Photo: Pia Riverola for WSJ. Magazine

THE LIFE AQUATIC | The pool area of Hotel San Cristóbal, which overlooks Playa Punta Lobos. Photo: Pia Riverola for WSJ. Magazine

2016 AIA Austin // Homes Tour

 

We are thrilled that a couple of our projects in collaboration with Mell Lawrence Architects and Furman + Keil Architects will be featured on the AIA Austin Homes Tour 2016!  This year's Homes Tour will be on October 15-16; tickets will go on sale September 15 on the AIA Austin's website (click link below).

M A S S I N G

The repetition of a singular plant creates a dramatic visual impact. 


The tough sward shape-leaves of the Agave palmeri is a powerful contrast to Nader Khalili's smooth superadobe house in Pescadero, Mexico.


A grid of Texas Sotol [Dasylirion texanum] creates a visually striking and memorable landscape at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas.  


At Mark Word Design we use masses to highlight the structure of a particular plant, while simultaneously reducing the overall maintenance of the garden.


Pre-SXSW Designer Showcase

The East Side Collective is hosting a Pre-SXSW Designer Showcase on Wednesday, March 9.  Come out and enjoy free drinks, music, and good company.  

2015 // OUR YEAR IN REVIEW

As we ring in the New Year, we would like to document the work we completed over the past twelve months.  Please enjoy our photo essay of 2015.