Food + Thought: New In Town
A Gateway to Downtown
Fareground at one eleven offers a glimpse into Austin’s future
by Joleen Jernigan
Photographs courtesy of dwg.
For years, the mantra of the Downtown Austin Alliance has been “as downtown goes, so goes the rest of the city.” Daniel Woodroffe, the president and founder of landscape architecture firm dwg., has taken this mantra to heart. In collaboration with Cousins Properties, the Michael Hsu Office of Architecture and the ELM Restaurant Group, Woodroffe and his team have been working hard to convert the One Eleven building and its sunken smoking patio into one of Austin’s most forward-thinking, sustainable, and delightful spaces.
With its unique stair-stepped shape, the One Eleven building on Congress Avenue has been a prominent fixture of downtown’s skyline since it was built in 1987. However, Woodroffe, Hsu, and co. saw a building with far greater potential and set forth to create the indoor-outdoor food hall and gathering place that opens this month. Their idea was to not just update, but transform One Eleven in line with Austin’s master plan of repositioning Congress as a modern-day Main Street. “Projects on Congress Ave. have, I believe, a moral obligation to be really exceptional. It’s the postcard image of Austin,” Woodroffe says. “We see Fareground at One Eleven as the new gate-way to downtown, bringing food, art, culture, and 100% ADA accessibility to this previously hidden jewel in our city.”
The Fareground Food Hall:
The ELM Restaurant Group is positioning Fareground at One Eleven to be an unparalleled food mecca in the heart of the city with six diverse vendors to open this fall: Easy Tiger, one of their own ventures; Antonelli’s Cheese Shop; Contigo Fareground; Dai Due Taquería, emphasizing wild game and fish tacos in homemade tortillas; Henbit & Honeybit, the brainchild of the Emmer & Rye team; and Ni-Kome, combining the strengths of Kome Sushi Kitchen and Daruma Ramen.
The immediate visual appeal of the plaza and grounds, adorned with thoughtfully designed gardens, beckons natives and tourists alike to explore and lounge comfortably. A fountain called Cloudscape stands tall above the plaza, emitting an actual cloud created with condensation collected from the air conditioning units inside One Eleven. Tables in the plaza receive essential shade from another piece of functional art called Nimbus, a nod to the concepts of hydrology that the designers studied during Cloud-scape’s creation. To further their goals of being environmentally astute, their sprawling lawn is made of synthetic grass that requires no water and stays green year-round.
Woodroffe says we are experiencing a renaissance in landscape architecture, as we return to a time when great cities were built from the ground up and people clamored around a vibrant plaza, meeting for a casual chat or to make a business deal. “People want to hang out and conduct meetings outside despite our summer heat of the sun,” Woodroffe says. “They want that outdoor experience. That’s what we stand for, what I founded my firm on. We are passionate about the urban architectural landscape and believe that design excellence can be an engine for change.”
Fareground is the latest of a series of downtown projects that Woodroffe and dwg. have worked on together. Other projects include the Royal Blue pocket park, the Yeti patio, and the rooftop terrace at 816 Congress. “We are building a reputation of not settling for just okay,” Woodroffe explains. “Downtown is a direct reflection of what the rest of the city needs to do, and it’s starting to happen.”
Read more from the Architecture Issue | October 2017