The new office space for Jones-Dilworth, Inc. (JDI), an Austin-based boutique consultancy that brings emerging technologies to market, exists within the shell of a metal shed building located at Springdale General. The clients, who are skilled and sensitive designers in several contexts, charged our design team to create a new space for their existing and future team within the 9,150 square-foot space in Austin's east side – meant to feel much more like a home than an office, with spaces crafted to accommodate specific and flexible daily activities.
The goal was to create an office which energized the team rather than draining it, and a space that encourages collaboration while also affording privacy. The design accommodates places for gathering, thinking, doing and sharing – embodying an environment where quality is more important than quantity, and experience greater than amenity. As a result, the new office intentionally avoids over-branding or variety for the sake of excitement, and is deliberately lacking in trendy “amenities.” JDI's team has a pre-existing culture and history which was established in previous office spaces, resulting in a self-awareness that both affects and exists within the newly-designed space.
The design demands interaction while simultaneously supporting respite. A new and celebrated central stair physically connects the team, otherwise divided among the first and second floors, while literally making people meet in the middle at the mezzanine's library and reading room. Visual connectivity throughout the office, from room to room and from floor to floor, accentuates the cohesion of JDI's team regardless of the area in which an individual chooses to work. A large kitchen finished with everything you'd expect in a residence provides enough seating for JDI as they are avid cooks and tend to share meals with the full team and clients, cooking for each other, and making use of the kitchen as you would at home. It’s certainly not a “break” room, but rather an interactive space of engagement, simply with an alternative focal point.
Conference and meeting rooms are crafted in various forms on both floors, each with unique nuances and some with specific functions - all with a serious consideration to how sound is either attenuated or accentuated. A podcast room is specially designed for the second floor, as well as a multi-purpose room that can be used for decompression, nursing, yoga, total privacy, meditation, prayer, or a nap in the elevated nook with views to the tree canopies along the north side of the building. Living room spaces exist on both floors, adjacent to the central stair, for informal gathering and working. Bathrooms are also designed with a residential feel, while utilitarian rooms throughout the office are concealed and out of the way. Finally, an executive office frames the main entry into the office, located intentionally for accessibility and to provide a balanced massing to the floating volume of the library and reading room on the mezzanine.
Details throughout the space tend to merge the quantitative and technical with the qualitative and natural. This is evident in the parametric design for the wood screen that partially encloses the kitchen, allowing sound to be diluted across the space, providing a sense of place, and still filtering light through the office. A wood banquette joins the screen inside the kitchen, while tables and chairs line the corridor in the blended zone between conference rooms and common spaces. Natural wood floors nest together in subtle curved geometries, the result of selecting naturally-occurring patterns in tree growth and sorting the cut wood to fit, minimizing waste by combining technology with sustainable forestry. Views to trees and ample daylight are preserved with the room layout allowing light and longer-distance sights to occur throughout the office, from one floor to another, from one function to another, from one person to another.
Location: Austin, Texas | Phase: Completion 2019 | Project Manager: Ian M. Ellis, Anna Katsios Deere | Design Team: Matt Fajkus, Sarah Johnson, Ian M Ellis, Anna Katsios Deere | General Contractor: Franklin Alan | Structural Engineer: MJ Structures | MEP Engineer: AYS Engineering | Photography: Charles Davis Smith, FAIA