Clients: EverWest Real Estate Partners
Structural Engineering: Cardno
Landscape: Big Red Sun
Mep: Integral Group
Lead Architects: : Travis Albrecht
Text description provided by the architects. Positioned at the heart of vibrant East Austin, Gensler Austin has converted an old single-story warehouse into creative office. Built in 1972, the 65,000 square foot warehouse’s unique appearance was preserved while transforming the structure into a modern space optimized for collaboration.
As the former location of the Balcones Recycling Center, it was decided early on that recycling the existing structure was crucial to the success of the project. The team, however, wanted to go beyond just recycling in order to preserve but improve the often sought after character of the East Austin neighborhood in which the building resides. The word upcycle embodies the design approach for this project.
The repositioning of the warehouse building into a multi-tenant creative office space, named UpCycle, seeks to preserve a piece of East Austin history while also providing an updated, modern office building. The design reuses 100% of the existing structure, even the building skin, which is turned inside out to reveal its natural finish. Old elements such as exhaust fans were also reused as decorative design features.
There are also new elements that upgrade the building and turn it into a more attractive office environment including butterfly trusses covered in graffiti by local artists and a new roof with clerestories to introduce more natural lighting. The site also includes a repurposed train car functioning as a front porch lounge equipped with seating, WiFi, and music. The boxcar plays an integral role in making this project both forward-thinking and respectful of the building's history, with the site's direct access to the adjacent to the rail lines and train tracks.
A focus on amenities provides a communal and social place for individual tenants to come together. The traditional multi-tenant hallway is instead traded in for a gathering space with lounge seating, a ping pong table, and coffee bar. Roll-up, glass garage doors lead to a large outdoor area that serves as the front porch for the building. These amenities allow tenants to socialize with one another and feel at like a tight-knit community.
Additional updates include 16,000 square feet of mezzanine space, new insulated roof with skylights, new insulated metal panel enclosure, high-efficiency mechanical systems, common core restrooms, large windows, and residential scale porches to provide tenants diverse ways to access the outdoors.
What was an opaque, uninviting warehouse is now a light-filled creative office building. What was once a mere metal shed is now a comfortable and efficient space that encourages interaction and connection between the tenants and the surrounding neighborhood. The team's approach to materials, daylight, social space, and efficient systems resulted in a place that is rooted in the past but looks forward into the future.