Construction is under way on SXSW Center, the new headquarters of South by Southwest, the Austin-based company that produces the annual SXSW music, film, and interactive festival. Designed by the architectural firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, the 13-story, 280,000-square-foot complex will consolidate the company’s various campuses and promote creative collaboration between SXSW and its partner organizations.
The new building’s distinctive serpentine form will frame an iconic view of Austin’s Capitol dome while embracing and preserving a grove of heritage live oaks. Curving away from the street, the glass-clad facade will shape a generous public plaza at the corner of Lavaca and 14th Streets, with rain gardens, seating, and pedestrian pathways. This open and inviting landscape will serve as an approach to the building entry and lobby, featuring a spacious café and flexible, informal coworking space. Other amenities include a green roof with covered patio, retail and dining on the ground floor, and a parking garage for 300 cars.
Lead designer Yvonne Szeto, a partner of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, calls the project a unique challenge involving close collaboration with SXSW’s founders. “Their special vision led to a transformation of the typical office building paradigm,” she says. “The lobby was reimagined not as a traditional circulation space but as a relaxed and welcoming living room that fosters interaction between tenants as well as with the neighboring community.” Incorporating ideas from contemporary hospitality architecture, the design represents a new office typology responsive to the needs of the labor force of the digital age.
1400 Lavaca Street, in downtown Austin
Mixed-use office building; South by Southwest headquarters with investment office space
gross area: 280,000 ft2 / 26,000 m2
office and retail: 145,000 ft2 / 13,500 m2
parking garage: 135,000 ft2 / 12,500 m2
Designed for LEED Gold and Austin Energy Green Building Program 2-Star Rating
Construction began: November 2017
Projected completion: 2019
Yvonne Szeto of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
Architect: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
Landscape Architect: dwg.
Architect of Record: Gensler
Sustainability Consultant: Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems
Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
About Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
With projects in progress in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners is a leader in architectural design and sustainability. Across six decades of exceptionally diverse practice, the firm has completed building and planning projects in more than 100 cities around the world. Based in New York, the firm’s eight partners and approximately 80 colleagues approach each project on its own terms, drawing inspiration less from formal or theoretical preconceptions than from particularities of place and program. Consistently recognized for excellence in design, the firm’s projects have received more than 250 major awards, including 24 AIA Institute Honor Awards and three AIA Twenty-five Year Awards.