Clayton Korte is renovating a mid-century office building in Austin

Enlarged windows and walls covered with felt are among the elements of the 1960s office building renovated by Texas firm Clayton Korte, which occupies part of the structure.


A project called the Project Office is located north of downtown Austin, along one of the city’s main roads. There are two studios in it – one for Clayton Korte, formerly Clayton & Little, and another for Word + Carr Design Group, a landscape architecture firm.

Clayton Korte renovated the office building in the 1960s in Austin

The project involved the overhaul of a steel structure, filled with bricks, which was built in 1963 as a speculative office building. When Clayton Korte acquired it, the building had gloomy, dark offices and took a lot of work – but the firm was not delayed.

“We took the opportunity to procure it, recognizing the untapped potential of raw spaces,” the team said.

Office interior upholstered in wood
There are two studios in the building

The two-storey building, located on a hillside, covers 9,648 square meters (896 square meters). From top to back, the property is a slope equivalent to one floor.

Over the years, the ground became precarious, requiring the team to focus on stabilizing the structure first. A total of 65 structural pillars were drilled to prevent the building from sliding toward the creek across the street.

Interior of a design office in Texas
The studio has brought new spaces to the interior

After the completion of the stabilization works, the team turned its attention to the interior of the building.

“The interior was the interior, leaving an empty shell into which a minimal set of space was introduced,” the architects said.

Large windows in Austin
Existing windows have been replaced with double-sized versions

To open up more daylight and provide better views, existing windows have been replaced with larger dual-size versions. Translucent curtains modulate the bright Texas sun.

The perimeter interior walls were cleaned and coated with industrial felt, which allowed them to be used as planks to encourage collaboration.

Private offices were located in the corners, allowing the bulk of the offices to flow freely. Small furniture enhances the feeling of openness.

For certain finishes, the team chose a raw aesthetic. The white ceiling insulation remained exposed, as did the original concrete floor. Steel was used for floorboards, window frames and interior doors.

Walls covered with felt
Felt-coated walls can be used as panels

The simple staircase that connected the two floors of the building was removed, and the opening of the staircase was widened. The team created a new staircase with a steel rope, exposed welded joints and oak treads.

“The oak-finished pedestal oak, harvested after a severe drought in 2011, also envelops the staircase,” the team said. “The central open staircase anchored large, light-filled studios on both floors.”

Staircase with oak treetops
The staircase has oak threads. Photo by Chloe Hope Gilstrap

The team also made several changes to the exterior. The brick walls are coated with limestone – a durable powder coating of powdered limestone that is common in the area. Above the entrance, the jump volume has been rearranged with glass and steel.

The project also included new landscaping, including grass and ivy.

Clayton Korte has offices in both Austin and San Antonio. The company’s other projects include a wine cellar that is hidden in a limestone cave, so it disappears into the surrounding landscape.

It’s a photo Casey Dunn unless otherwise indicated.


Project loans:

Architecture: Clayton Korte
Interior designer: Clayton Korte
Main contractor: Burnish & Plumb
Landscape architect: Word + Carr design group
Civil engineer: Scott Williamson
Metal production: Drophouse Design

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