Clayton Korte renovates mid-century office building in Austin
Enlarged windows and felt-covered walls are part of the elements of a 1960s office building renovated by Texan firm Clayton Korte, which occupies part of the structure.
The project, called the Design Office, is located just north of downtown Austin, along one of the city’s main thoroughfares. It houses two studios – one for Clayton korte, formerly Clayton & Little, and the other for Word + Carr Design Group, a landscape architectural firm.
The project involved the redesign of a steel-framed brick infill structure built in 1963 as a speculative office building. When Clayton Korte got it, the building had dreary, dark offices and needed a lot of work – but the business wasn’t put off.
“We jumped at the chance to acquire it, recognizing the untapped potential of raw space,” the team said.
Measuring 9,648 square feet (896 square meters), the two-story building is located on the hillside. From front to back, the property slopes the equivalent of one floor.
Over the years, the ground had become unstable, forcing the team to focus on stabilizing the structure first. A total of 65 structural pillars were drilled to prevent the building from sliding into a stream across the street.
Once the stabilization work was completed, the team looked into the interior of the building.
“The interior has been gutted, leaving an empty shell into which a minimal set of spaces has been introduced,” the architects said.
To usher in more daylight and provide better views, the existing windows have been replaced with larger versions that are double in size. Semi-sheer curtains modulate the blazing Texas sun.
The interior walls of the perimeter have been cleaned and coated with industrial felt, allowing them to be used as poster boards that encourage collaboration.
Private desks were placed in the corners, allowing most of the office to move freely. Low furniture reinforces the feeling of openness.
For some finishes, the team has chosen a raw aesthetic. The white insulation of the ceiling was left exposed, as was the original concrete floor. Steel was used for baseboards, window frames and interior doors.
A simple staircase connecting the two floors of the building has been removed and the opening of the staircase has been widened. The team created a new staircase with a steel stringer, exposed weld seams and oak treads.
“Oil-finished post oak, harvested following a severe drought in 2011, also envelops the staircase,” the team said. “The open central staircase anchors the large, light-flooded studios on both floors.”
The team also made several updates on the outside. The brick walls were coated with lime plaster, a durable powdered limestone finish common in the area. Above the entrance, a pop-out volume has been refitted with glass and steel.
The project also included new landscaping, including grasses and climbing ivy.
Clayton Korte has offices in Austin and San Antonio. Other projects of the company include a wine cellar which is nestled in a limestone cave so that it disappears into the surrounding landscape.
The photograph is by Casey dunn unless otherwise stated.
Architecture: Clayton korte
Interior decorator: Clayton korte
General contractor : Burnished and plumb
Landscape architect: Word + Carr Design Group
Structural engineer: Scott williamson
Metal fabrication: Drophouse design