Photo courtesy of the Home Edit

Anyone who was awake between 2004 and 2012 likely remembers the ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Iconic host Ty Pennington would walk the audience through a total-home renovation in just one week, with an emotional hook and hordes of volunteers.

Now, the show is returning for its second reboot, and an Austin suburb is doing the honors of reintroducing it with new hosts.

A spotlight is set to shine on Hutto in the yet-to-be-filmed pilot episode of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition reboot. (That’s still a working title, by the way.) The show itself is also getting a bit of a makeover, as it will now be hosted by Joanna Teplin and Clea Shearer, founders of the multimedia home organizing empire the Home Edit.

Set to shoot from September 11-17, the pilot episode will feature a group of local volunteers and skilled craftspeople from the Taylor Morrison Home Corporation building an entire home from scratch. It’ll fit right in, since Taylor Morrison built the entire neighborhood, called Emory Crossing.

"We're still recruiting [volunteers], actually," says Taylor Morrison Austin Division President April Whitaker, adding that anyone near the area can sign up to be involved by heading to the Taylor Morrison Facebook page.

She emphasized the need for more hands on deck to do everything from working the catering tent and keeping the job site clean, to executing skilled labor like woodworking and cabinetry.

Although Taylor Morrison and the steadily growing team of dedicated volunteers are getting ready to go on September 11, the family selected for the new home currently has no idea that they'll be featured on the pilot episode.

“They know that they're in a group of three finalist families, but they won't be notified until the morning of the 11th,” says Whitaker. “How about that? It is a true surprise."

Adding another layer of fun for locals, the family will move into their new home once the building is completed, right in front of everyone who made it happen — and even interested neighbors.

"People can actually come out for that and watch it happen in real life if they want to. It'll be a pretty exciting day," Whitaker says.

Get Organized with The Home Edit fans may also be excited to hear that Shearer and Teplin will be onsite for filming. Although Whitaker isn't privy to the expert home designers’ specific schedules for the week, she confirms: "They are actually going to be doing organizing and legitimately will be on site and on camera, especially since they're hosting the show — so they will be floating around. So hopefully if people come out as spectators they'll get to see them."

Heartened by the excitement of locals already signing up to volunteer, Whitaker adds, "It's amazing to see the people coming together in our Austin community that really want to give back. It's a pretty neat thing, the energy that's going around right now."

She hopes that the impact of the pilot episode, in addition to the diligence of the volunteers, will inspire fans and locals alike.

"Taylor Morrison, in general, has philanthropy in our DNA. We love to give back to our community, all the way around. And it's exciting, because it is a really deserving family,” she says. “But I hope to think that by doing this in our community, other people see we are a big company, and we have a lot of resources, but we can actually make a real difference by coming together as a community and tackling this. It's a beautiful thing to know that you're doing something so wonderful."

There is no confirmed release date as of writing for the pilot episode of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition reboot, but the series has been publicized since June, when it was announced.

Photo courtesy of Thoughtform Design Build

Women-led Toronto design firm expands into the U.S. with 'home base' in Austin

Moving House

On behalf of the whole United States, Austin is welcoming a new design firm. Thoughtform Design Build, a women-led extension of award-winning Toronto interior design company Wolfe, sensed that the Texas capital shared a similar love for luxury, wellness-oriented design, choosing it as its “home base” for its U.S. operations.

Thoughtform has recently begun working on custom residential and commercial projects in Texas and the wider Sun Belt region. The company has previously executed some projects in Miami and Los Angeles, and now wants to expand through Texas.

"Developing genuine relationships with clients to understand their needs is at the heart of our mission to create meaningful spaces," said Thoughtform President and Creative Director Jessica Neilas in a release.

Thoughtform will provide premium homebuilding and design services from construction to interior design, for clients seeking elevated, purposeful spaces centered around health and wellness. A major focus will be designing homes for hybrid living, with seamless integration of work, play, and life.

When asked about the expansion to the United States, Neilas told CultureMap, “I have always looked to the U.S. as this birthplace of ingenuity and possibility. Especially as a creative, I have been inspired by the inventors and entrepreneurship of the people of the U.S.”

Neilas goes on to explain her choice to base operations in Austin: "From the scenery – the hills and lakes, and the trails — this city inspires its dwellers to take advantage of the everyday opportunities to seek a healthier lifestyle."

One recent project exemplifies Thoughtform's approach to creating personalized, yet timeless spaces: The clients had bold personalities and wanted an interior that reflected their vibrancy. However, they were also mindful of investment value and potential resale.

Thoughtform used organic, yet dramatic materials like graphic marbles and textured wallpapers to create focal points with natural tones. They incorporated curved details for subtle playfulness, resulting in an artful, inviting home revealing itself through diverse materials. Their nuanced approach brought out the clients' essence in a relatable way, aligning with their values.

Another pair of clients sought modernity but worried it would seem cold when hosting family. The design approached the home like an art gallery, with artistic focal points. Vibrant prints, diverse art, and playful furniture created aesthetic joy. Warm hues softened the cool backdrop. The result blends sleek, modern forms with an energetic, welcoming gallery feel suiting the clients' tastes.

"We hope our approach to thoughtful design will resonate with the Austinites who are seeking a healthier work/play/live space of their own," Neilas added.

The firm's first Austin project is underway in Bouldin Creek. Thoughtform hopes to continue expanding in Texas and beyond. More information can be found at thoughtformdb.com.

Thoughtform Design Build interior

Photo courtesy of Thoughtform Design Build

Thoughtform Design Build is making Austin its "home base."

Photo by Studio Uma

Austin's Umlauf Sculpture Garden gets creative with new expansion and preservation plans

preserve atx art

A long-standing staple of Austin's artistic community is seeking to expand its premises and improve accessibility for patrons in a new vision plan for the site's future.

The Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum (stylized UMLAUF) is collaborating with international architecture and engineering firm Page to develop its Historic Preservation, Expansion and Unification (HPEU) Plan. In addition to expansion and accessibility improvements, the vision plan will also include details to preserve the 1.93-acre portion of the property that encompasses the namesake Umlauf home, artist's studio, and sculpture garden.

"Our goal is to give every single visitor — from those who know little about Austin to those who frequent the Garden regularly — the opportunity to experience the full scope of this treasured site," said Umlauf Board of Directors President Jennie Branch in a release. "As Austin has grown exponentially, the Umlauf remains committed to sharing this vital part of the City’s history within eight acres of green space in the heart of Austin."

Page has an extensive history working on major projects in Austin while managing environmental concerns. The firm has helped construct the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the Austin Convention Center, the Second Street District, Rainey Street, and much more.

Page will be tasked with addressing storm water runoff and surface pollutants at the Umlauf as part of the HPEU Plan.

"Page’s people, plus their long history of innovation and sensitivity to environmental concerns, made them the right choice for the Umlauf," Branch continued.

The architecture firm also has a previous connection with the sculpture garden. Lawrence Speck, Page's Lead Principle architect, is the creator behind the original Umlauf Gallery and Terrace.

"We were honored to help create the original Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum back in the 1980s, but this project is absolutely about the future… the future of the UMLAUF, and the future of Austin," Speck said.

The Umlauf is seeking community input before moving forward with the HPEU Plan. The sculpture garden always has fundraising opportunities at events, such as The Domain's Starlight Soiree this October.

More information about the vision plan and a public survey can be found on umlaufsculpture.org.

Photo courtesy Snøhetta

The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture presents Craig Dykers and Elaine Molinar of Snøhetta

The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture will present a lecture with Craig Dykers and Elaine Molinar of the architecture firm Snøhetta.

In their lecture, “Towards a Peaceable Kingdom,” the UT Austin alums and designers for The Blanton’s New Grounds Project will explore projects that take into account the geological, ecological, and cultural layers of a site, considering the many living species beyond our own.

Photo courtesy of AIA Austin

Popular AIA tour drafts 9 local architects for a peek inside Austin homes

explore austin homes

Taking a stroll around a nice neighborhood and commenting on the architecture is an evergreen activity. But Austinites can speculate from the sidewalk any day. Clear your calendars on October 28-29, because the popular self-guided AIA Austin Homes Tour is back.

This will be its 37th annual journey to highlight local architects and innovative home design. The nationally recognized tour showcases both newly built and renovated homes that inspire everyone from homeowners, to designers, to architects.

Before the physical tour, AIA Austin will put on pre-tour webinars with each of the nine chosen architects from September 13 to October 11. Attendees will gain access to the webinars when buying a ticket, getting an introduction to each architect and the home they designed, plus a question-and-answer session. Webinars can also be purchased individually.

"This tour has something for everyone," said AIA Austin Executive Director Ingrid Spencer in a release. "From a house made mostly of plant-based materials, to a multi-generational house with lush gardens, to a renovation of a spectacular house we saw on this tour 20 years ago, this tour promises to inspire attendees and generate lots of discussion about great design."

Other homes that will be on the 2023 tour include a three-glass home on a steep 10-acre property, a 660-square-foot studio space above a pre-existing bungalow, and more.

The nine architects that will be highlighted for the 2023 annual tour are:

Early-bird tickets ($40 per person) are available until September 22. General admission will be available for $45 until the day of the tour, and $50 on October 28. VIP tickets ($125), which include access to a VIP party, are also available.
More information about the 37th annual AIA Austin Homes Tour can be found at aiaaustin.org.
Photo by Dan Ryan

Indeed opens its global co-headquarters in high-profile downtown Austin tower

Big News, Indeed

Indeed has been around Austin for quite a while — 18 years, to be exact. In fact, it was born here and Stamford, Connecticut (working remotely before it was cool). So it may catch some locals by surprise to hear that the global co-headquarters is opening now in downtown Austin, and it's a pretty big deal.

Austinites are used to driving past Indeed buildings but are still majorly unfamiliar with the relatively new Indeed Tower, which has been collecting tenants since its completion in 2021. The 36-story tower was immediately bought by the California-based Kilroy Realty Corp., with Indeed as the majority leaseholder.

Now Indeed employees are moving into the new space and out of the pre-existing downtown office space. Employees who work at The Domain will remain there. The hiring company publicly announced the change on August 22 — the first day of business at the new HQ. A spokesperson for Indeed could not confirm whether or not employees from the other lease holders would also start work today.

The tower's size and sleekness alone should signal to Austinites that this aims to be a great place to work — and it ought to be, considering that the entire business model is getting people into new jobs. And that's why this news could be big: Many new employees will begin streaming in — both from Indeed and other leaseholders — perhaps even creating a new standard for how Austinites expect their offices to run.

"Indeed has always believed in flexibility for its employees," said a press release. "We know that a modern workspace designed with today’s needs top of mind will make for a more comfortable and productive work day when employees are in-person together."

It also notes that everything in the tower "from the architecture to the furniture and technology" was chosen with flexibility in mind. Some project highlights in the release include: "wireless-first offerings," expanded video conferencing, flexible partitions, and adjustable or ergonomic office furniture.

Indeed worked with its longtime partner EdgeQuarters — at least since 2016 when the smaller company outfitted Indeed's existing Austin space at Champion Office Park — to create a sustainable interior utilizing "reusable furniture." The walls are adorned by an unnamed Austin artist.

"We’re thrilled to open our new global co-headquarters office here in Austin," wrote the spokesperson in an email to CultureMap. "Indeed Tower demonstrates our long-term commitment to building our presence in Austin’s fast-growing tech sector and tapping top local tech talent."

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2 very different arcades and a new IMAX theater press play in South Austin

players ready

No other part of town can beat South Austin when it comes to old school, outdoorsy entertainment, but the people down here want their screens, too. In between trips to McKinney Falls and the Far Out Lounge, South Austinites now have two more options for lights-out, tech-based entertainment.

First, Zero Latency, a "free roam" virtual reality space, is now open for group gaming. Hot on its heels, starting December 1, EVO Entertainment Belterra Village is adding an IMAX theatre for a higher-tech viewing experience and and an arcade, well, for a lot more fun.

Both are basically arcades, then, but with very different connotations. Zero Latency calls its 4000-square-foot space at Southpark Meadows an "arena," although visitors will really encounter an empty room. Once they put on the headset, the space will be transformed, and they will hopefully not bump into their pals — with up to eight people allowed in each room.

“It really is the best way to experience VR, whether you’re an experienced gamer or a first-timer," said venue owner Mohammad A. Edaibat in a release. "As an aerospace engineer that is specialized in simulation developments, I can confidently say [the] Zero Latency system does mimic the high-fidelity simulation systems used for serious training. I can see it being used not just for fun and entertainment but also for athleticism and serious competitions.”

The release lists five available games, including the new original game Outbreak, a teamwork game fighting a zombie virus, and and exclusive VR take on Ubisoft's first-person shooter Far Cry. This is the 80th location for Zero Latency, including one in North Austin. Its games have been played more than 3 million times worldwide.

The EVO tech will likely be more familiar to most Austinites, bringing the city's fourth IMAX theater (according to what's listed on Google Maps). This projection in particular is powered by lasers, resulting in a sharper picture. A release says the advanced audio system delivers "10x the dynamic range of standard sound systems," helping with even sound distribution to all seats in the theater. When it opens, guests can watch Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, Godzilla Minus One, or Napoleon.

Meanwhile, the brand-new arcade offers more than 35 games including Jurassic Park, Skee-Ball, Kong VR and a giant claw machine.

"We are thrilled to expand our entertainment experience by integrating IMAX's technology into our theatres," said Vivek Abichandani, vice president of strategy and corporate development at Elevate Entertainment Group (EEG), EVO's Austin-based parent company that also operates Violet Crown Cinemas and others. "We are setting a new standard for cinematic excellence, and we can't wait for our guests to experience the magic of movies like never before and enjoy our expanded entertainment offering at Belterra."

Zero Latency South Austin is located at 9900 I-35 Ste M500. EVO Entertainment Belterra Village is located at 166 Hargraves Dr., Austin, TX, 78737.

Long-vacant market in Austin scores new bowling alley tenant

spare warehouse

It's been eight years since the St. Elmo Public Market was announced in South Austin.

Now the renovated warehouse on South Congress Avenue will be morphed into a unique entertainment destination.

The market, which was originally supposed to open in 2018, has sat empty since 2022. Recently, the project was purchased by Nashville and New York-based firm SomeraRoad in November and leased to Pins Mechanical Company.

Pins Mechanical operates successful locations in the Midwest, including in cities like Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Now the firm hopes Pins Mechanical will bring the troubled warehouse to life.

"We’ve turned over a lot of stones looking for the right project in the right neighborhood," said SomeraRoad's Brock Kenyon. "The St. Elmo Public Market has incredible potential, and we’re excited to drive a new chapter for this project with Pins Mechanical."

Pins Mechanical said the St. Elmo location will feature 24 duckpin bowling lanes, more than 30 pinball machines, and more than 40 classic arcade games like "NBA Jam" and "Frogger."


Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

'The twinkliest town in Texas' and 6 other Hill Country locales become Christmas wonderlands


Though chance encounters with childhood sweethearts rarely happen between sips of hot cocoa, feeding one's most jolly Hallmark fantasies is perfectly fine. And let's face it, those warm fuzzies aren't always easy to find amongst Austin's seasonal glitz. That kind of holiday feeling is a decidedly small-town affair.

If you only get fresh air from a fourth-story balcony, it's time to head on a Texas road trip. Throughout December, the Hill Country rolls out the twinkle lights and garlands to give city slickers some Christmas razzle-dazzle. Unpack a cozy sweater, cue a playlist, and fire up the sleigh.

Dripping Springs
Though much of the season is geared around kids, the many distilleries, wineries, and breweries clustered around Dripping Springs offer some holiday fun for the adults. Hire a van to bop around some of Texas' most spirited spots, including Jester King Brewery, Vista Brewing, Desert Door Sotol, and Deep Eddy Vodka. If nap time doesn't completely waylay plans, Christmas on Mercer on December 2 is the perfect place for some buzzed shopping.

With its historic buildings and rows of quaint shops, Fredericksburg always seems ready to break into an Irving Berlin ditty. During Christmastime, the streets erupt into a full production number. Through January 7, 2024, the town's market square hosts a daily lighting ceremony showcasing tales of Fredericksburg's German heritage and Christmas carols. The Marktplatz also offers an ice-skating rink and one of Texas' most dazzling selfie spots: a 26-foot tall wooden spinning Christmas pyramid.

Forget Stars Hollow. Rory and Lorelai Gilmore's hometown wishes it could conjure up half the Yuletide magic as this Austin suburb. Visit the weekend of December 1 and 2 to catch the annual Christmas Stroll. The town's downtown hosts a family-friendly festival with vendors, live music, a parade, and plenty of festive food each year. And the Snow in the Park event ensures a White Christmas.

Johnson City
Johnson City's reputation as the "twinkliest town in Texas" isn't a mere boast. Its downtown display, illuminated through January 7, 2024, is truly a spectacle with more than two million bulbs glittering in the night sky. The Blanco County Courthouse is the sparkling hub of several community events throughout the season. Don't miss the annual chili cook-off on December 9, sponsored by some of the Hill Country's best wineries and distilleries.

Marble Falls
Sure, it sounds like a third grader's fever dream, but bumper cars on ice are actually a thing in Marble Falls — offering slip-sliding fun for those who have never heard of a salchow. Less bumpy are the other activities, from a pop-up s'mores bar on December 1 to weekend market days.

New Braunfels
Maybe it's the easygoing river lifestyle, but New Braunfels has always played by its own rules. That's especially true during the holiday season, when kids are delighted by visits from the chaps-clad Cowboy Kringle instead of good ole Saint Nick. That individualistic spirit carries over to the town's schedule of events, including a one-person telling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol on December 3 and caroling at the Natural Bridge Caverns.

This charming hamlet has no shortage of holiday diversions like the annual Trail of Lights, a walking tour running through December 26. But before the stroll, expect to open the wallet. Wimberley Square is teeming with one-of-a-kind shops selling everything from boho Western gear to French country home goods. The hospitality scene is no slouch, either. Grab a quick pie at Community Pizza or splurge on shellfish and champagne at RR12 Supper Club.

Georgetown Christmas

Georgetown's downtown decked in its holiday finest.