Baldridge Architects has had many homes since its founding in 2005. First, it was rented space on South Lamar. Following that, the firm renovated an office building at 1010 West Lynn, a space which garnered multiple design awards.
But as the firm’s projects have grown in size and complexity, so have the firm’s space needs. To fuel growth and to provide amenities lacking in prior space, new space was needed which led to the purchase of a set of structures on Burnet Road, a principal Austin commercial arterial. The Burnet Road Offices are comprised of three structures, which were originally built in 1961. The newly adapted 3,450-square-foot complex provides office space for Baldridge, with 1,750-square-feet of leasable office space for two other design-related tenants.
Once loved, these buildings had suffered from years of neglect and ad-hoc adaptive reuse that had masked their potential. The spaces had housed a TV showroom, offices, a thrift store, a motorcycle dealership, a car wash, a gym, and even a vape lounge.
The current transformation began with a new crisp-white plaster exterior, which retained the distinctive CMU shadow-block where possible. The interior design masks the low 8-foot ceilings with bright finishes, high quality lighting, and spatial strategies that break the space down into residential nests. While the firm jettisoned design-build as a business model in 2010, it opted to act as the general contractor on this special project, vowing this time to work only with friends in the construction industry.
Of note, the specialty energy efficient glass punctuating the façade was provided by Panelite, whose founder is a close friend from university of Baldridge’s founder. Punctuating the space is a Peter Gluck-designed dining-room table from the Floating Box House, which was also designed by Gluck. The table serves as an homage to the project that brought Baldridge back to Austin (Baldridge managed the home’s construction including the fabrication of the table while working for Gluck).
While the firm has no intention of returning to its design/build roots, the project was an amazing experience for the firm, notwithstanding the surreal quality of completing it during the global pandemic.