From Silicon Valley To The Silicon Valley Of The South: Bay Area Design Firm Makes The Move To Austin
While office markets across the U.S. continue to struggle to get back to pre-pandemic levels, the Austin, Texas, office market is thriving. Cushman & Wakefield reported that for the fourth consecutive quarter, office leasing in Austin remained strong, with nearly 1M SF leased in Q1 2022.
During this quarter, major tech companies including TikTok and Cirrus Logic, leased hundreds of thousands of square feet in Austin’s central business district as companies continue to flock to Texas for its pro-business climate.
“The Austin market is very hot right now,” said Courtney Read, a senior project manager and designer at Revel Architecture & Design, which opened an Austin office in January of 2022. I'm constantly hearing about a new high-rise that's being added to the downtown area. With the sheer amount of people that are moving to Austin, it makes sense that so many companies are choosing to follow.”
Read and the rest of the team at Revel’s Austin office have been working on major office projects in the city with the goal of helping companies that move to Austin feel at home while embracing what makes this area unique.
Bisnow recently sat down with Read and Revel President and principal Scott Clement to learn more about what gets them excited about the Austin market and how they are incorporating the culture of the city into their designs.
Bisnow: How would you describe the state of the Austin office market right now, and what makes you excited about it?
Read: The Austin market is booming right now. People are ready to get back to normal life and for our clients, that means many of them are re-evaluating their office space needs. Some companies hired people during the pandemic who have never been in the office. Now, as they look to bring people back, they need to integrate them into the culture, and a great way to do that is with a well-thought-out design of their space.
We’re also seeing companies that are entering the Austin market at a high speed and are looking at subleasing space or taking spec suites that are already finished out. In these cases, clients are bringing us in to help implement their company style and culture to create a unique and branded workplace.
I’m excited about all the opportunities in Austin. I grew up in Texas, and people used to talk about Austin like it was a small town. To now compete for top companies with major East and West Coast cities makes me proud.
Bisnow: What projects are you currently working on in Austin?
Read: We’re working on two pretty unique projects right now. The first is a technology hardware company where employees work with their hands all day. They need space to create, as well as space where they can rest. This is a global client, and we’ve been working to bring some local flavor to their Austin office.
The technology sector is incredibly competitive right now, particularly in Austin, and companies like this need to do everything they can to attract and retain top talent. That means providing workers with an environment they don’t want to leave, which is what we can help create.
Clement: The second project is for a consumer brand operating out of a warehouse on the east side of the city. We're working to uphold the integrity and originality of that building and bring it to life by engaging with local artists. We want to work with the elements that are currently there while updating it to make a space where people want to come each day. East Austin is a vibrant, walkable neighborhood that embraces street art, and we wanted to make sure to use that in our design by bringing street art right into the interiors of the space.
Bisnow: What are some of the other ways you’re infusing Austin’s unique culture into your work?
Read: Austin is known for being a cool, casual city and I feel that it's essential to maintain that spirit in our designs. One way we accomplish this is to use local materials and vendors whenever possible who understand Austin. As our city develops further, we need to remember that we’re still in Texas and we need to support the entire community however we can.
We want people to walk into our client’s offices and be able to tell that it was designed right here in Austin, rather than in any other city in the world. This is how we can do our part to ‘keep Austin weird.’
Bisnow: What makes Austin a good fit for your firm’s next office?
Clement: Opening this Austin office was a natural fit for us. Our firm was founded in San Francisco and we have a lot of clients from the tech world and Silicon Valley. Now, Austin is rivaling Silicon Valley as a global hub for the tech industry and we can use our expertise to serve our clients in Texas as they grow and expand their teams to the West Coast and elsewhere.
Bisnow: What are Revel’s plans for its future in Austin?
Clement: In Austin, we’ve begun expanding into new sectors we did not have access to in California, including the energy market and more consumer products. In terms of what’s next, one exciting development is that while some design firms have their regional satellite offices only serving one particular area, we are now operating as a network of designers across multiple offices and bringing our talents across the country. This approach broadens the pool for recruitment and has allowed us to grow our team with great designers in Austin, which also allows them to influence designs coming out of our San Francisco and Los Angeles offices as well.
This feature was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Revel Architecture & Design. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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