At The River’s Edge El Monumento | Georgetown, Texas | 7,500 SF
Georgetown, Texas, boasts two particularly enviable assets, the kind of magnetic features that most small towns would covet. They have a charming historic district and a serene river flowing through the city. Until now, no single place or space connected the two amenities in a meaningful way. The owners of El Monumento restaurant saw an opportunity to provide riverside dining that would draw Main Street to the banks of the San Gabriel River.
Born Along The River
As Texas was settled in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, rivers played a key role in the growth of towns and agriculture. Townships grew into bustling cities, so that even now many of the state’s major metropolitan areas celebrate their connection to the waterways that brought them to life. Restaurants and retail invigorate the urban rivers of Central Texas, from the San Antonio River Walk to the expansive waterfront views in Austin. Small towns like New Braunfels and San Marcos have built industries around river recreation and enjoyment. Georgetown needed a point of connection to illustrate a cohesive identity around their historical and natural resources.
Nature Has Its Say
The site for El Monumento was ideal to achieve the downtown/river interface, but it also involved some unusual design considerations. The ideal plot sat among challenging topography in a flood plain along a dead-end street. Overland Partners incorporated elements of urban planning into the design of the building to bring the site to life and maximize its benefit to the client.
Inviting From Every Angle
At most riverside eateries, the seats facing the water are considered the best in the house. Overland’s primary goal was to make sure that every table in the sizable space was a premium spot.
“Every seat should feel like you got a ‘100%’ seat,” said Bob Shemwell, Senior Principal at Overland.
Warm, inviting interiors and variations in light give each area of the restaurant a prime time of day to shine. Rather than lesser or greater degrees of the same experience, each section of the restaurant is unique, from the courtyard to the riverfront to the swath of interior with perfect views of both.
You feel like you are entering into somebody’s residence. It is really about decompressing and forgetting you are in an urban place at all. You are in the middle of Georgetown, but it’s an oasis in the middle of the city.
The moment patrons arrive at El Monumento, their experience reinforces the specific pattern of Georgetown. The restaurant recreates the hacienda atmosphere common in Central Texas hospitality, and the scale and materials connect it to the historical surrounds. Beginning in the parking lot, every view is designed to beckon guests further in, along a walkway carved from a rammed earth wall, into the dining room.
The interior is rustic and simple, rooted in the natural vegetation and familiar comforts. A shaded trellis then leads to the deck, which the design team extended far enough over the river to allow a view of a feature known as the “Blue Hole.” By looking down the San Gabriel, not merely over it, those seated on the deck are connected to the atmosphere and potential of the flowing water, watching it move along its meandering journey toward the Brazos. Extending the deck also gave the restaurant prominence in the view from the bridge. The complex provides an important point of connection between the historic square, the San Gabriel River and nearby trails.
Texas Downtown Associations Best New Construction 2013
Urban Home Austin, “Escape to El Monumento,” October/November 2013