The art of design

Celebrity Austin architect clocks in with stunning new South Lamar office building

Celeb architect clocks in with stunning South Lamar office building

Tyler Hobbs mural South Lamar
Tyler Hobbs' mural on the exterior of the building. Photo by Leonid Furmansky
Michael Hsu office building south lamar
The Michael Hsu-designed building is on the corner of Oltorf Street and South Lamar Boulevard. Rendering courtesy of Michael Hsu Office of Architecture
Tyler Hobbs mural South Lamar
Michael Hsu office building south lamar

Any building designed by renowned local architect Michael Hsu demands attention. But when it comes to a new Hsu-designed office building in South Austin, another design element deserves a close look.

The 165,000-square-foot Bouldin Creek office building, at the northeast corner of South Lamar Boulevard and West Oltorf Street, features four murals created by four local artists: Soledad Fernandez-Whitechurch, Tyler Hobbs, Sophie Roach, and Jana Swec. Unico Properties, the main developer of the project, tapped the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation’s Writing on the Walls program to commission the four murals.

A February 2 news release from Unico supplies these descriptions of the murals:

  • Fernandez-Whitechurch’s mural, located in the parking garage, “is an amalgam of geographical imagery with a modern and optimistic outlook for the future.” Fernandez-Whitechurch is a native of Paraguay. Following the death last year of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she created a widely seen mural at Navasota and East Cesar Chavez streets in honor of the U.S. Supreme Court justice.
  • Located on the building’s façade, Hobbs’ piece “explores how patterns, processes, and randomness can both capture and distort elements of natural reality.” Hobbs is a “generative” artist who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science (not art) from the University of Texas at Austin.
  • Roach’s mural, installed inside the lobby, “uses familiar shapes and patterns to create a unique visual language based on spontaneity and rhythm.” Roach, a self-taught artist who splits her time between Austin and Brooklyn, New York, has produced works for clients such as Apple Music, Facebook, Instagram, Starbucks, Visa, IBM, SXSW, and the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
  • Swec’s mural, on the top floor of the parking garage, showcases an ocean horizon. Co-founder of the artist-run Big Medium nonprofit, Swec is a painter, muralist, designer, and musician.

“We integrate art into our projects to design memorable experiences. Local artists and craftspeople elevate spaces and offer perspectives that are reflective of the community,” Micah Land, a partner at Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, says in the release. “These murals reflect the legacy of the site with references to cooling water currents — carving forward paths, ebbs and flows, upward movement and urban patterns that echo the energy of Austin.”

Another noteworthy aspect of the five-story office building is Proud Mary, an Australian coffee shop and café concept. Later this year, Proud Mary is set to open its second U.S. location in a 2,500-square-foot space at the building. Proud Mary’s other U.S. location is in Portland, Oregon. The Bouldin Creek site has been home to eateries in the past, most recently the Lucy’s on the Fly chicken joint and previously the Olivia fine-dining restaurant.

“Bouldin Creek embodies the kind of development the Austin market is responding to right now: ideal location, access to green space, and a high-quality design that puts the health of employees first,” says Sarajane Goodfellow, market leader and director for Seattle-based Unico.

Floor-to-ceiling windows let natural light flood into the building and afford sweeping views of the nearby greenbelt, as well as the surrounding neighborhood and downtown. Amenities include a fitness center, locker facilities, bicycle storage, and stations for charging electric cars.

Austin-based Studio8 Architects was the project’s architect of record, and Austin-based White Construction was the general contractor.