a place to share ideas

Hotel Magdalena
Sophia Razzaque's picture

A Look Inside Hotel Magdalena, the first Mass Timber boutique hotel in North America

Located in the heart of Austin’s South Congress neighborhood, the recently opened Hotel Magdalena is the first mass timber boutique hotel in North America. The mass timber wood structure honors the history of the site including the former 1950s Austin Terrace Motel – previously constructed of exposed heavy timber beams and columns in the mid-century modern aesthetic. The design team, including Lake|Flato, operator Bunkhouse Group and Ten Eyck Landscape Architects sought to reference this history and material aesthetic by creating warm, inviting structures. Scroll down for a look inside Hotel Magdalena!

Hotel Magdalena - Mass Timber

We worked closely with StructureCraft, who was the structural engineer for the timber superstructure. The building structure and materials needed to be considered as an integral component of the larger sustainability goals of reducing energy demand, conserving water, and lowering the carbon footprint for the project. By using wood as the primary structural material in lieu of concrete or steel, the overall embodied energy for construction was greatly reduced.

Hotel Magdalena - Interiors

By exposing the mass timber structural panels to the conditioned hotel rooms, finish material areas were also greatly reduced. The standard hotel rooms and suites use simple interior finish materials for the floor and walls, allowing for the exposed wood DLT ceiling/floor panels to be a prominent experience within the room. The standard room and the custom beds/built-in wood desks are designed to allow for natural daylight to come into the space from both sides. This was a counterpoint to the double-loaded corridors and dark entries found in most hotels.

Hotel Magdalena - Exterior Stairs

An important design goal was to enhance the outdoor experience for hotel guests to encourage the use of the common exterior spaces. The prominent use of wood throughout the hotel as the primary structural and finish material invites guests to connect with the landscape and internal courtyards

Hotel Magdalena - Bridge
The mass timber panels, structural walls and heavy timber porches were prefabricated off-site, delivered and erected in a more streamlined schedule by StructureCraft. This process also ensured more quality control of the finished product. Showcasing the mass timber panels and heavy timber structural components ensures that they become an integral component of the hotel experience, both inside and outside of the guest rooms. This, in turn, allows for the conversation of sustainable structures and construction practices to be viewed and shared across a wider spectrum of visitors from around the country and world.

Hotel Magdalena - Porch

The Douglas Fir exterior circulation porches and heavy timber structural components are stained with a pre-weathering finish, allowing the deck to feel natural and weathered. These gapped wood porches were used to encourage guests to interact with the outdoors and other building occupants. The balconies focus activity on the shaded courtyard and pool terrace, creating a communal experience for hotel guests that is reminiscent of the Hill Country lake houses of a previous era.

Hotel Magdalena - Summer House

The restaurant was designed to provide an indoor/outdoor connection. The indoor dining spills out into the Courtyard, which is surrounded by native landscaping. The restaurant integrates the herbs in the nearby garden in their culinary preparations. 

Hotel Magdalena - Courtyard

The design of these gardens, overlooked by hotel terraces and rooftop gardens, capitalizes on the site’s dramatic topography with planted quarry block retaining walls, an event lawn enveloped by lush native plants, and a unique central pool deck.  Bald Cypress, Mexican Sycamores and native ornamental trees provide shade throughout the complex and complement the large, existing Live Oaks that have been preserved in place.

Hotel Magdalena - Pool
The pool floats between the buildings at the top of the courtyard to the south, reminiscent of the natural pool at the local Barton Springs. Its long narrow design has made it easy to stay at a distance, while still not feeling far away.  The pool activates the courtyard, bringing life to the heart of the project and creating an oasis away from the bustling SoCo District. 

Hotel Magdalena - Lobby
We’ve enjoyed collaborating with Bunkhouse Group over the years on some of their previous projects, including Hotel San Jose down the street from Hotel Magdalena. For a more in-depth look at the hotel’s interiors, check out this First Look in Texas Monthly.

Hotel Magdalena - Levels
The project’s single loaded corridor configuration reduces energy demand by pushing typically conditioned space to the exterior.  This also allows each room to take advantage of natural light and cross ventilation.  In addition, each hotel room also has its own VRF system with a centralized Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) supplying fresh air. 

Go Back