The office building at 2001 North Lamar Boulevard might not keep your attention for long. After all, it’s essentially a beige box, built with the same tan bricks it appears every architect in Austin was contractually obligated to use in their institutional and commercial projects from about 1960 to 1980.
But there’s a compelling sort of midcentury modern weirdness about the building that elevates it slightly in my view, with details like a wall of windows on the southeastern side and its kooky cantilever over the parking lot making it look an awful lot like the office cousin of a dingbat apartment.
Originally the regional headquarters for the Southland Life Insurance Company, the office was built in 1960 with design from architects Pendley & Day — that’s Claude Pendley and Fred Day, both graduates of the University of Texas School of Architecture.
Midcentury architecture is hot stuff at the moment, so I was happy to learn that this building’s getting a second act via Mark Odom Studio, one of my favorite architecture firms in the city, as part of a renovation project to prepare the office for a new tenant, insurance agency BKCW — which will bring the space full circle back to its original use. Here’s a better view of what’s in store:
It looks like the building will receive attention in the form of a new outdoor patio, a restored interior, and a roof feature to break up some of the flatness of the original structure.
I can’t wait to see this restoration completed. We’re in touch with Mark Odom Studio to see if we can learn more about plans for the interior remodel, but I figured I’m not the only one who already likes this property from the outside. As always, I appreciate when old buildings can be brought up to speed for modern uses without completely sacrificing the small features and quirks that make them unique — sure, it’s no architectural masterpiece, but every space has a story.