When Texas couple, Ralph and Lisa Eads, dreamed of opening a sophisticated dining destination in order to share their love of food and hospitality, they knew they wanted the famed architects Bobby McAlpine and his colleague David Baker, of McAlpine Tankersley Architecture, to head up the project. The concept was to design a series of three rhythmic spaces or "rooms" at laV restaurant in the Eastside of Austin, Texas. Located in an urban renewal warehouse district, the restaurant resides in a neo-industrial building modeled after a 1920's warehouse, with a brick-painted exterior, radiant steel windows, and steel entry door.
laV is surrounded by rolling green hills, a historic cemetery, and an organic kitchen garden. The architectural design came from direct conversations with the clients; Architect David Baker described the space as a "Gathering of life".
Designer Susan Ferrier of McAlpine Booth & Ferrier Interiors, created a warm, captivating interior with an intimate ambiance and a casual terraced outdoor dining space. The conversation between line, form, and volume of the architecture reads as masculine; the interiors have a feminine feel with tufted banquetes, handblown-glass lamps, mohair portiers, gorgeous chandeliers, and paintings of the lush French countryside envelope you in a rich and satisfying dining experience.
"The architecture is masculine," designer Susan Ferrier notes,
"but the interiors have a feminine feel"
Much of the success of the interior lay in how Ms. Ferrier treated color, employing one neutral to play up the architecture in one space, and another neutral to play down the formality in another. A sweep of color across the walls and curtains accented with an industrial feel, and balanced by gilt mirrors, tongue and grove painted walls, and glamorous chandeliers, is at once both rustic and refined.
I had the great pleasure of speaking with Architect David Baker, who exceeded my expectation of a gracious Southern gentlemen and a famed architect, and who was, at once, generous with his time and his vast knowledge of architecture. Throughout our conversation he would use the word transparency. Transparency in architecture is not the same as looking straight through a building, it's not just a physical idea, it's also an intellectual one. McAlpine and Baker masterfully framed each "room" with a 10 foot framed opening, as a design lending transparency and lightness to the restaurant in its entire. It's flat gorgeous!
The result is laV is a beautiful restaurant that is visually discerning and offers a rustic yet refined cuisine inspired by Provence. Emphasizing the ingredients of the season, the food by Executive Chef Allison Jenkins is at once both simple and soulful; the seductive desserts by Executive Pastry Chef Janina O'Leary add a sophisticated conclusion to the entire experience. In addition to the food, Advanced Sommelier Vilma Mazaite along with owner Ralph Eads created, "one of the great wine programs in America." - from compelling value to uncompromising quality; with offerings from their favorite producers.
"Gathering of life" - Architect David Baker
Mr. Baker described the rooms as "Maturing in progress", if this is what maturing looks like I am all for it.
My sincere thanks to McAlpine Tankersley Architecture for their unmerited kindness, and for always being a great source of inspiration for me. To Mr. Richard Norris, Business & Marketing, thank you for your direction and subtle wit, that helped put me at ease, well at least as much as possible. And a special thank you to architect David Baker, whose generous knowledge and resources were invaluable.
For more inspiration from these talented Architecture and design firms, you can see the post: Bobby McAlpine Light and Old World Refinement: A South African Cape Dutch Home HERE
I hope it's lovely where you are...
All the best,
349 Peachtree Hills Avenue NE, Suite D1
Atlanta, GA 30305
Tel: 404.501.9200| Fax: 404.501.9288
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Nashville, TN 37203
Tel: 615.259.1222| Fax: 615.259.1250
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New York, NY 10010
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The Pacific Building
501 Cloverdale Road, Suite 201
Montgomery, AL 36106
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*All photos from the laV Restaurant