Note: This article was originally published July 2, 2019. The tech center recently won Austin Business Journal’s “Coolest Office” contest.
Texas’ favorite grocery chain (HEB, of course), opened its new, state-of-the-art Eastside Tech Hub in July. The facility is home to Austin-based H-E-B digital partners (employees), as well as the new headquarters for delivery service Favor, which became a subsidiary of the company in 2018.
The two-story building, formerly a one-story warehouse, is located in the Holly neighborhood at 2416 East Sixth Street, a block from the HEB on East Seventh Street—a stalwart neighborhood grocery store that is currently being updated and renovated.
IA Interior architects worked with HEB to customize and redesign the 81,000-square-foot industrial space, which was once home to Austin’s first recycling center and was converted to short-lived space Upcycle by Gensler in 2018. The redesigned workspace keeps the unique identities of HEB and Favor intact while celebrating the Texas roots of both businesses.
Meeting rooms are named after HEB brand products, famous personal assistants from popular culture (in honor of Favor runners), and Texas landmarks and cities. Restrooms are named after Wes Anderson films, a nod to the director’s Houston roots. Materials are sourced from around the state, starting with hickory and pecan ceilings, a reception desk framed in native limestone, and crystals encased in bull wire in the entry vestibule.
Other areas of the tech center, which has room for several hundred workers, incorporate brick and tile from San Antonio’s D’Hanis Brick, handmade furniture from Marfa, and native Texas plants. The space also features the work of Texas-based makers and artists, including portraits and murals by Will Bryant, multimedia art by R.F. Alvarez, work by local fiber artist Ellen Bruxvoort, and installations by Marfa artist and sculptor Cody Barber.
The two-story, open office includes collaboration areas, individual work spaces, and a number of meeting rooms with high-tech features and video-conferencing capabilities. IA transformed an existing promenade (known as “the greenhouse”) to create flow and connection between HEB and Favor spaces, resulting in a gathering area filled with natural light. Garage doors open on the building’s east side can be opened to reveal four porches that can be used for indoor-outdoor meeting spaces. The outdoor areas also feature hammocks, ping pong, and picnic tables designed by Barber.
As with any tech company worth its salt, the office building includes a coffee bar serving products from local roasters, a lounge area, a large events space, and a wellness center with a rock-climbing wall, curated fitness classes, bicycle parking, and showers. In a move that echoes Google’s Silicon Valley practice, HEB will make wifi-enabled shuttle bus rides between Austin and San Antonio available to employees throughout the work week.