Situated in the same building as the corporate SXSW headquarters, WeWork SXSW Center, in the heart of the Austin business district, embodies the creative, innovative, and collaborative spirit of the must-attend festival. The story behind this one-of-a-kind location is as unique and quirky as the city of Austin, TX, itself. It’s one that pays tribute to the area’s local music scene, natural beauty, and reputation as the radical heart of Texas. And it all begins with the building’s “S” shape, designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners with architect of record services provided by Gensler.
A study in contrasts
This ultramodern Class A building, built in 2019, was designed to protect an important piece of Austin’s history. The team at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners came up with the “S” shape to ensure the safekeeping of a grove of heritage live oaks located on the southern edge of the site.
The curvy structure that preserved the trees also resulted in the dynamic interior of the 13-story, 143,988-square-foot building that boasts incredible natural light and expansive views and guarantees visitors will not only feel—but become in sync with—the pulse of the city. “The building is unique in that it has a podcast room, a piano, and two terraces,” says Connor Purnell, community lead at WeWork SXSW Center.
“WeWork SXSW Center is noted as being a very bright and open building, because it is mostly windows,” says Haley Zills, community associate in the building. “Members have a very good view of the city from every floor.”
This attention to detail, and an appreciation for the rich history and culture of Austin, is something the WeWork team carried forward in designing the interiors of the three dedicated WeWork floors located within SXSW Center.
Connecting with the local community—celebrating a given area’s flora and fauna, neighborhoods, and culture—is one of the WeWork design team’s key values. Before opening a new WeWork location in the world, a group of designers conducts on-the-ground research and becomes immersed in the local dynamics, with a goal of creating a space that authentically blends with and becomes part of the existing fabric of the city.
Taking inspiration from Austin’s original music scene and native plants, the designers came up with a specific vision: to evoke the feel of a local beer hall meets music venue, while also embracing the natural beauty of Texas.
Stepping inside the building, observant WeWork members and guests will notice the repurposed 1970s JBL 4311 control monitors located above the community desk. Above, they’ll see a custom light fixture similar to one you might find hanging above a pool table in a dive bar.
On the main management floor, the showstopper is a white high-gloss grand piano custom-airbrushed with an image of a horse, alluding to the style of a typical band’s tour van. Deep maroon high-gloss metal panels on the island base also bring a radical rock ’n’ roll feel to the space.
As with many other WeWork buildings, SXSW Center also features splashes of color, decor, and art distinctly selected for and inspired by the surrounding locale. Floor-to-ceiling desert scenes pair with—and create a striking contrast to—the building’s floor-to-ceiling windows. Rift-cut white oak is strategically placed in millwork, turning the white walls into blank canvases for art.
Rounding out the wood accents and maroon high-gloss panels is black and white terrazzo, resulting in a combination of styles that embodies Austin’s varied hometown vibes, modern appeal, and natural roots.
The city at your doorstep and rooftop
The building’s prominent location, just blocks from the Texas Capitol, is within easy reach of leading policy makers, finance professionals, marketers, tech innovators, designers, and more. And the interior spaces, such as conference rooms, sleek private offices, and expansive lounges, are ideal for meeting with clients and wooing investors. As with all WeWork spaces, these were designed for efficiency, productivity, innovation, and connection.
In addition to superfast WiFi, 24/7 security, and WeWork’s full suite of amenities and perks, SXSW Center members also enjoy access to the building’s unique offerings, including the preserved grove of live oak trees on ground level and a 2,000-square-foot covered rooftop patio that delivers standout views of Austin, The Capitol, and Hill Country.
SXSW Center’s convenience extends to commuting, with on-site bike storage available and several North-South CapMetro stops nearby.
Mary Kearl has a BA in journalism from NYU and an MBA in marketing from Baruch College Zicklin School of Business. She is a writer and marketing professional who has worked with dozens of the world’s most admired brands and publications, including Adobe, Pinterest, Zillow, Target, HuffPost, Business Insider, and more.