Case Study

Querencia at Barton Creek Senior Living That Embraces Texas Hill Country

Austin, TX, USA

The Challenge

Senior Quality Lifestyles Corp. (SQLC) sought to bring an upscale Life Plan Community — a senior living community with multiple levels of care, amenities for active lifestyles and lifetime housing — to the growing Barton Creek area of Austin.  The site involved several complications, given its proximity to the Edwards Aquifer and a sloping landscape.

The Design Solution

The design team nestled the sprawling development into a hillside, embracing the rugged terrain. To minimize the footprint of Querencia at Barton Creek, the complex features multiple levels and is angled to work with the topography. Though the building incorporates a variety of programming, the layout prioritizes wayfinding and fosters community through well appointed social spaces.

In the main commons building, the design carefully steps down the hill, offering breathtaking views from the dining garden and adorning the site with terraced waterfalls. The complex also takes advantage of views to the Barton Creek Country Club, placing a second dining venue, the Bistro, on the top floor of the commons building. The community’s art studio is also located on this floor but on the opposite side to capture northern light and inspirational views of the valley below.

The stand-alone spa and wellness center offers a private and peaceful destination. The center also features a covered infinity pool and a large fitness center.

The licensed care wings were designed in different shapes to conform to the topography while delivering the programming needed for more acute levels of care. Though an unusual design choice, memory support care was placed on the top floor, giving those residents access to a secured roof deck and maximizing their exposure to nature to improve their well-being.

The Design Impact

Querencia fits right in Texas Hill Country, complementing neighbors such as the world-class Barton Creek Country Club and Resort and the luxury Barton Creek Villas apartments.

Project Features

  • 455,620 square feet (42,328 square meters)
  • 10 cottage duplexes
  • 157 independent living residences
  • 40 assisted living residences
  • 20 memory support suites
  • 40 skilled nursing suites
  • Spa and wellness center
  • Infinity-edge pool
  • Underground parking
  • Multiple dining venues
  • Wine room
  • Private dining
  • Art studio


  • 2014 Award of Merit, AIA Design for Aging Review
  • 2007 Finalist, Environments for Aging Design Showcase