An $11 million renovation of the John H. Winters Building across West Guadalupe Street from mixed-use project The Triangle is about to begin, and it’s occurring in advance of a construction project building a nine-story office building and parking garage, only the first phase of development at the roughly 80-acre plot of state-owned land around the Winters building.
According to state records, the Texas Facilities Commission retained the services of Encotech Engineering Consultants to address deficiencies in the six-story building that is currently the headquarters for Texas Health and Human Services. Renovation at the Winters Building, located at 701 West 51st Street, is scheduled to begin this May, and conclude by May 2019. Encotech’s primary task involves modernizing the climate control and ventilation system and to make the building more energy efficient.
The TFC is responsible for maintenance of state buildings and the construction of new state facilities. As anyone who has driven by The Triangle on West Guadalupe Street or North Lamar Boulevard can attest, the Winters Building is surrounded by acres upon acres of surface parking and green lawns. The TFC has drawn up plans to use that land for a massive expansion that it refers to as the North Austin Complex. With an estimated price tag of $445 million, the project will bring more than 1 million square feet of office space and parking for almost 6,000 vehicles.
This project is being planned in three phases that will be rolled out over several years. Phase I began in 2016 with the search for a development team. The Facilities Commission hired STG Design and Jacobs Engineering Group as its architectural/engineering team, and in March 2017, Vaughn Construction Company climbed on board as the project’s construction manager. The Facilities Commission estimated the pre-construction design phase would take 18 months — since the development team was assembled at the start of 2017, that puts the construction start phase at mid-to-late summer 2018.
“The construction phase is anticipated for an additional 30 months,” the TFC stated.
The building and parking garage originally had an estimated cost of $136 million, but when Vaughn was hired last February, the firm announced a new estimate of $155 million. Vaughn began the process of assembling its subcontractor trades about six weeks ago. Making reference to Phase I and the first building, the TFC said it has the “potential to reinforce and enliven the West Guadalupe and North Lamar intersection, as well as establish strong visibility for potential high-volume public access services that could be located within it.”
Phase I involves the construction of Building A and Parking Garage A. The building was originally described as seven stories, but has grown during the design period to nine stories, according to information gleaned from its construction documents.
The office building’s size is estimated at 406,000 square feet with a height of 138 feet at the ninth floor. Including the penthouse level, the building will top out at 158 feet. The building will be located across from The Triangle along West Guadalupe Street. The original concept was more angular and followed the bend in the road, but this more recent design and floorplan has straighter lines. The initial concept also included a pedestrian skybridge over Lamar Boulevard to connect Building A to other Health and Human Services offices, but it is not clear from the most recent illustrations whether that feature survived.
The parking garage is a separate structure from the new building. However, Building A, the garage and the Winters Building are assembled in proximity to each other such that a courtyard and outdoor dining area has been configured between them. The seven-level garage will be constructed on what is now a surface parking lot north of the Winters Building and across Guadalupe Street from the University of Texas Berry M. Whitaker Sports Complex.
The parking garage was originally designed to hold 2,400 vehicles. More recent document appear to show a reduction, possibly to 1,850 spaces. The scope of work also includes “a central utility plant housed within the parking garage structure to service the office building, along with future equipment space for future buildings.”