Lake Austin H-E-B
H-E-B has emerged as one of the country’s premier food retailers. It was crucial that RSP’s design for their new Lake Austin store not only embody the brand but set a new bar for customer experience and community engagement.
While the new store’s site enjoys an ideal location, especially in terms of visibility and access, the property’s tight confines made a one-level, suburban footprint impossible. Instead, the design goes vertical with a multi-level store and below-grade parking. Such a configuration solves the volumetric issues, of course, but raises a few challenges of its own. Namely, how best to encourage shoppers to circulate vertically.
To do just that, the design centers on a dramatic entry lobby with stairs, escalators, cartveyors and elevators, all of which offer shoppers a choice and a variety of experiences. Natural light floods the space, and a mix of offerings and amenities makes the journey worthwhile. Part of the H-E-B experience is a social one, so choreographing multiple vantage points—places to rest and log-on, to see and be seen—plays a central role in the design.
Given the building’s size (97,000 SF) and residential context, the design breaks down the scale and massing of the store by using materials in a creative way and manipulating the structure’s geometry. Wherever possible, the design team opted for a more human and intimate scale, especially on those elevations adjacent to residential neighborhoods. The roofs vary in heights, for example, and pitched roofs at the store’s prominent front-end all contribute to a more comfortable street edge.
The design celebrates local, regionally sourced materials. A varied color palette and ample landscape soften the edges and help with rainwater retention and run-off. Limestone, regional D’Hanis brick, wood, metal profiles in shades of gray (similar to traditional, rural dance halls and BBQ joints around the region), landscaping and glass all combine to create a mosaic that is very much of its place and locale.
H-E-B always anticipates the community’s needs and drivers, and a great example of this is how the store accommodates the growing demand for Buy On-Line Pick-up In-store (BOPUS). Couple this with Austin’s active farm-to-fork movement and the city’s appetite for locally grown and sourced products, and this store reflects a true neighborhood vibe.
The store also features a full-service True Texas BBQ Restaurant and Bar with indoor/outdoor seating that overlooks Town Lake, as well as an H-E-B brand coffee shop and South Flo Fresh Pizza off the main lobby at street level.
RSP served as project designer and architect of record and worked closely with Lake Flato Architects.