Project site: Previously developed land
Building program type(s): Office - 10,001 to 100,000 sq ft
UPCycle transforms the former Balcones Recycling Center into a unique creative office building in the historic community of East Austin, Texas. Rather than building anew, the client prioritized adaptive reuse to help preserve and improve the neighborhood character and honor existing resources. The main design question was, how do you maintain the look and feel of the building's industrial past but make it suitable for office use and recognizable as a place for people?
The word upcycle embodies the design approach for this project.
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 design team here shows us how to make a great, healthy, sustainable, adaptive reuse project within a crazy tight budget." - Jury comment
The design of the building and spaces is tailored to the creative tech community that values flexibility, openness, culture, and collaboration. The design was successful in attracting the digital division of HEB (a regional grocer) and Favor (an online food delivery service) as their new headquarters. This project has created a new model for HEB's real estate portfolio and represents a change in culture for the corporate firm.
The existing building, which had sat idle for many years, was partly covered in graffiti and had been used for various graffiti art exhibitions. During the renovation, the team found and hired these and other local artists to create an interior aesthetic consistent with the character of East Austin. The vibrant colors of the art that adorn the existing structure enliven the former industrial space and celebrate the past.
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.