[ Austin, Texas ]
5-Star Sustainability Rating
Austin Energy Green Building
2013 Design Award
Texas Society of Architects
2012 Student Architecture Award
University of Texas School of Architecture
2012 Finalist | New Development
Envision Central Texas
2012 Citation of Honor
AIA Austin Design Awards
The design of the LifeWorks branch highlights the role of the non-profit in transforming the lives of youth and families seeking self-sufficiency and generational advancement. Located in East Austin, a historically socioeconomically-disadvantaged area, the 33,600 sq ft branch will provide a hub for educational and financial literacy in the Central Texas region.
The building establishes a strong, urban edge that follows the curvature of the adjacent road. A colonnade acts as a communal “front porch,” inviting visitors in and providing shade, refuge, identity and light. Deep overhangs capture prevailing winds and provide shade to a rhythmic arrangement of windows, while outdoor spaces offer flexible meeting areas.
The interior utilizes colors to create an effective visual wayfinding strategy. A tranquil, uplifting palette minimizes the institutional nature of the facility and amplifies the spirit of healing, inspiration and confidence that permeates the organization.
Despite a tight budget ($158/sq ft), sustainability was conceived of as a central part of the design. During construction, 82.9% of waste was recycled or salvaged, and 52.5% of the building materials were sourced in-state. When compared to a baseline case study, LifeWorks uses 79.6% less energy, 80% less potable water for irrigation, and 28.3% less indoor potable water. Over 90% of the occupied spaces have exterior views and natural light. The building is sited near several bus routes and a light rail line, while bike racks, showers, lockers and electric car charging stations promote alternative means of transportation (the site received a 77, or "Very Walkable", rating from WalkScore.com).
LifeWorks is the fourth commercial project to receive a 5-star rating from the Austin Energy Green Building program, the nation’s first green building program and the model for the LEED certification system. Since the commercial rating program’s inception in 1995, only 2.7% of projects have achieved 5 stars.