Architect: Gensler

Owner: EverWest Real Estate Partners

Location: Austin, Texas

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.

View of Break Area at Entry

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.

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of design completion: 2017

Year of substantial project completion: 2018

Gross conditioned floor area: 76,494 sq ft

Number of stories: 2

Project climate zone: 2A hot-humid

Annual hours of operation: 2080

Site area: 89,046 sq ft

Project site context/setting: Urban

Cost of construction, excluding furnishing: 6,857,008

Number of residents, occupants, visitors: 540

Project team

Commissioning Agent: Integral Group

Engineer - Civil: Jones & Carter

Engineer - MEP: Integral Group

Engineer - Structural: Cardno

General Contractor: The Burt Group

Landscape Architect: Big Red Sun

Owner Project Manager: Curt Kremer (George Oliver Companies)


Robert Berkebile, FAIA, BNIM Architects

Roy Decker, FAIA, Duvall Decker Architects

William Horgan, Assoc. AIA, Grimshaw

Vivian Loftness, FAIA, Carnegie Mellon University

Andrea Love, AIA, Payette

Image credits

View of Boxcar Lounge

Dror Baldinger

View of Communal Lounge Space

View of South Facade

Dror Baldinger

View of Communal Ping Pong Table

Dror Baldinger

View of Graffiti Artwork

Dror Baldinger