As iconic as SXSW is as an incubator for innovation, it is only fitting that the organization’s new home would have a creative back story.
The curved design introduced by project design architect, New York-based Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects LLP, could stand on its own merits in terms of aesthetics. But the glass and steel does not undulate simply for art’s sake.Two representatives for the development team came before the Design Commission on Monday evening to make their case for an additional 51 feet above the base height limit of 120 feet. The proposed 12-story office building will replace a much smaller two-story structure, and because of its location, 1400 Lavaca Street, the height is constructed by the Capitol Dominance ordinance.
Two representatives for the development team came before the Design Commission on Monday evening to make their case for an additional 51 feet above the base height limit of 120 feet. The proposed 12-story office building will replace a much smaller two-story structure, and because of its location, 1400 Lavaca Street, the height is constructed by the Capitol Dominance ordinance.Going up to 171 feet would only be allowed if the project meets criteria of the Density Bonus Program ordinance. The key ingredients are square footage, streetscape improvements, and a Green Building 2 star rating.
Going up to 171 feet would only be allowed if the project meets criteria of the Density Bonus Program ordinance. The key ingredients are square footage, streetscape improvements, and a Green Building 2 star rating.
- Proposed Height: 171 Feet (12 Stories)
- Square-Footage: 145,220
- Level 1: Lobby, Cafe, Retail Tenants
- Level 2-6: Parking Garage
- Level 7-12: Office
- Level 13: Office Penthouse & Roof Terrace
The 51 additional feet in height would give 1400 Lavaca an additional 66,600 square feet. This brings the total building area to 145,220 square feet. The existing structure has 35,328 square feet. The designers are pursuing a LEED Gold certification, which exceeds the city’s Green Building 2 star.
The streetscape, however, brings us to the nexus of this design. The project boundaries are Lavaca, 14th Street and Guadalupe Street. The rear faces an alley. All along 14th street, there is a series of heritage trees that Pei Cobb Free & Partners were obliged to save.
Eric Schultz, managing principle at dwg.|urban architectural landscapes and landscape architect consultant on the project, explained how the building had to give a wide berth to the trees in order, not just spare them, but preserve the green canopy they provide.
Talks with the Parks and Recreation Department led to numerous refinements, including an agreement to reduce the street width on 14th Street from 18 to 16 feet. Some branches in these large oaks are very low hanging and do not meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) clearances where a sidewalk would normally be placed. To adjust for that, the sidewalk will be realigned.
Two rain gardens are contemplated, one to the east and another to the west. Their functional intent is to help feed the root system.
The building curve toward the rear is most pronounced on the east end. Taking advantage of this open space, the design team penciled in a public plaza there and the main entry was placed here, so it has a southeast entrance, but a centrally located plaza.
This is primarily an office building, but it is mixed use. Retail tenants, included a café and coffee bar, are planned for the ground floor to ensure there is interaction between the building and whatever goes on across the plaza and sidewalk.
Schultz said they are also looking at installing a rain capture system for irrigation.
There will be structured parking from levels two to six. There was some discussion about whether this was too much parking, given the growing use of Uber, cycling (there will be bike parking, a shower and lockers for tenants) and the potential impact of driverless cars. However, it was noted that the parking levels are being designed to allow them to be converted to office space, if need be.
The project is scheduled to break ground the summer of 2017. It is expected to be ready for a late 2019 ribbon-cutting. SXSW will be the anchor tenant, occupying the top three floors.
The Design Commission recommended allowing the height increase.
- Owner: CZ Properties
- Architect of Record: Gensler
- Design Architect: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects LLP
- Landscape Architect: dwg.|urban architectural landscapes
- Civil: Jones|Carter
- Structural Engineer: Walter P. Moore
- MEP Engineer: Wylie Consulting Engineers
- LEED Consultant: Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems