Projects / Commercial

Texas Society of Architects Headquarters Renovation Austin, Texas

Owner: Texas Society of Architects
Contact Person: Earl Swisher | The Lawrence Group
Current Phone Number: 512-391-1932
Date Completed: June 2016
Final Cost: $1,000,000
Project Description:

The building at 500 Chicon Street started out as a oil company warehouse in 1923 and over the years has evolved into office space and is part of the revitalization of the East Side of Austin. In 2011 The Texas Society of Architects made the location their home. The primary goal of the design team for the renovation was to preserve the original character of the building along with many historic elements while also increasing the functionality as a creative open office space. This included upgrades to the mechanical systems and improvements to the building’s acoustics.

A primary focus for the upgrades was to provide more zone control in the building. The existing system had only 2 two zones for the entire building which caused a large amount of thermal discomfort considering the upper level is a brick facade with no insulation and the lower level is primarily below grade. The decision to go with a VRF system was made because it provided ultimate zone control with a unit in each office and higher energy efficiency compared to traditional DX systems. The low ceiling height and lack of a plenum on the lower level was a unique challenge as the VRF equipment manufactures did not have a product available in North America that would fit in between the existing structure. During the design phase one manufacturer was able to provide a unit that would work with the structure and the system became the first of its kind installed in Central Texas.

The lower level had an additional challenge with low hanging ductwork crossing a hallway. This was resolved by  repurposing a utility closet under the stairs to house a vertical air handler to serve the collaboration area. Using the utility closet and connecting the new unit to existing ductwork allowed us to remove the low hanging ductwork and not impact the current aesthetic of the space. The upper level was served by two large spiral ducts that the design team retained as they are a prominent design feature of the space. It was decided to use one of the ducts as an outdoor air intake and the other was used to supply decoupled outside air to the upper level.


Services Provided:

Jose I. Guerra, Inc. provided complete mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection programming, engineering design and construction administration services.


Awards / Recognition:

2016 Preservation Award for Sustainability from Preservation Austin


Slideshow (Click images below to view)