The street-facing glass brick wall at Austin’s new restaurant adds mystique to guests and passersby.
The challenge of how to attract customers to a new restaurant, Comedor, in the highly competitive market of Austin, Texas, was to create a façade that is eye-catching, unique and alluring to pedestrians and vehicle traffic. This needed to be accomplished while fulfilling the daylighting requirements by the city.
Architects from Olson Kundig were presented the task of creating an urban oasis. From the exterior one sees distorted shapes, vague movement and hazy colors glowing through the translucent glass block. Once inside the customers are transported to another world, a sort of refuge or sanctuary, miles away from the busy street outside. The bar and dining area are sophisticated and contemporary with an industrial vibe, with a soaring ceiling and natural light provided by the glass brick.
Seves’ glass bricks were integral in bringing to life the vision of the owner and architects. To create the sense of intrigue, the architects specified Vetropieno solid glass brick, which creates a distorted view that was needed for the effect while still providing significant impact resistance for a wall facing a busy street. It could also be coursed (approximately) with the black modular brick as these are toothed into each other at the perimeter.
The city of Austin requires a certain percentage of transparency on exterior façades. The glass bricks perfectly fulfilled this requirement, allowing glimpses of the interior while still protecting privacy. Navvab Taylor of McKinney York Architects, the on-site architect firm for the project, has high praise for the working relationship with Seves Glass Block, “Tony Kava of Seves Glass Block was very gracious with his time, helping us through technical aspects and detailing the wall assembly, and sending us samples that we could present to investors and the building officials.” The service and technical know-how was as integral to the success of the project as the bricks themselves.
The restaurant consistently receives accolades from both critics and customers. The food—a modern take on traditional Mexican—and the architecture and ambiance receive their share of credit for the dining experience. Customers use words such as “stunning,” “sophisticated solitude” or “hidden gem,” to describe the space. The street-facing glass brick wall is intrinsic to the process of discovery and contributes to the dining experience.