Lake Flato on Twitter
Grace Boudewyns

Better Know an LF Project: Hotel San Jose

Posted by on 8/9/12 at 05:00pm

Hotel San Jose

A 1930s motor hotel in an eclectic district of South Austin was transformed from low-rent lodging to a hip, modern destination. Rooms in the existing three buildings were restructured, and a new 16-room building was added in the former parking lot to create a central courtyard. This communal outdoor space serves as an outdoor lobby, lounge and pool area. Architectural details, such as tile shed roofs, parabolic arches, arbors and porches, were repeated throughout the complex. Gardens of native Texas plants tie the buildings together.


Job Origin: Liz Lambert

Completion Date: 1999

The Story:

It all started on one of many sunny afternoons in Austin.  Liz found herself across the street from the old hotel enjoying an ice cold beer when the thought suddenly struck her:  would she not be better off giving up her job as a lawyer in favor of the life as a flea-bag hotel owner? Days later she approached the owners who were surprisingly very willing to sell. . . the rest is history.


  • 40 room hotel addition & renovation.
  • 16 new rooms were added to the existing 26
  • Small lounge, check in, pool, and gardens in place of asphalt parking

LF Scope: Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents

The Crux of the Design:

Squeezing small outdoor spaces into the existing little nooks and crannies: each door, or set of doors, opens into a private or semi-private space. The spaces between the small simple rooms take on a character of their own and truly form the heart of the place. The common spaces at the Tarpon Inn in Port Aransas, TX set an example of how people will socialize when given the opportunity. Best thing….David constantly hounding me to make it quirky.

Favorite Detail:

The way light sneaks in at a few surprising spaces…brings balance to small spaces. We were on site every week looking for little things and found ways to sneak light into a few otherwise ho-hum spaces.

2002: AIA San Antonio – Merit Award
2001: Texas Society of Architects – Honor Award
2001: Interior Design Magazine – Best Small Hotel

Interesting Material: Smooth hard-troweled natural grey stucco

If you could change ONE thing:

Originally constructed as an open arbor, the upper deck porch facing the courtyard eventually had to be replaced due to water damage.  The solution was to replace the affected wood structural members with steel.



  • feddrcikthomas

    The hotels in San Jose are built with extreme quality with good use of interior designs. It is a 40 room hotel with good renovation and it also consists of Pool, fabric porch, entry arbor, lobby and many more. For more details visit: