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SXSW Center: Inside the new digs

Conference and festival offices move into new $70M building with bright decor and killer views

Curved 13-story office building with alternating bands of glass and white concrete, gray block parking garage in front, city street and buildings in background
SXSW Center
Courtesy of SXSW

One presumes there probably won’t be an “official” opening of SXSW Center. Other than the front plaza and the lobby (including ground-floor coffee bar/cafe SouthBites, which opened in June), the building isn’t open to the general public.

Still, given both the wild popularity and the industry-spanning nature of the homegrown conferences and festivals—not to mention that co-working juggernaut WeWork will rent a few floors there—odds are that quite a few people will visit the offices at some point and plenty of those who won’t are still curious about the new digs. You, friends, are in luck.

SXSW has been moving into its offices since May and has settled into the new place—the top two floors of the $70 million building, located at 1400 Lavaca Street, a short walk from the Texas Capitol. The staff (currently 175 full-time members) now enjoys a couple of floors designed in an open-office plan, with a glass-walled central conference room, satellite private offices and collaboration areas, bright pops of color, and absolutely stunning southern and western views from the rooftop deck.

The SXSW Center lobby goes for a vibrant but relaxed look and feel, with terrazzo floors reflecting overhead LED lights that change colors and modern, casual couches, chairs and work tables meant to encourage interaction and activity. The building also features bike-storage room, workout, and locker rooms for workers.

WeWork will occupy 65,000 square feet of the building, law firm Butler Snow leased 21,000 square feet, and Parthenon Capital, a private equity firm, will lease 3,500 square feet. SXSW offices occupy the 11th and 12th floors—42,000 square feet—of the office tower.

street-level plaza in front of office building windows, wooden patio and ramp, twin trees flanking entrance, landscaped garden on left
SXSW Center entrance
Courtesy of SXSW
Small coffee shop in contemporary lobby behind ship-bow-shaped counter with a customer and a cashier, pinkish overhead lights
SouthBites Cafe
Courtesy of SXSW
Contemporary open lobby with streetfacing windows, triangle-shaped pinkish overhead lights breeze block wall long high table with high chairs modern furniture
SXSW Center lobby
Courtesy of SXSW

Builders broke ground on the 13-story tower, which is owned by CZ Properties, in late 2017. Designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, with Gensler the architect of record and designer of SXSW’s 11th- and 12th-floor offices, the 145,000-square-foot building was completed in June. Harvey-Cleary Builders was the general contractor.

Large rooftop patio with steel pergola, alternating gray and white granite floor, people on couches and at glass railing overlooking Austin skyline toward south, state capitol dome on left
SXSW Center rooftop
Courtesy of SXSW
Lobby area with wood floor and ceilings modern receptionist desk, receptionist, blue wall with graphic mural recessed lighting white man and white women reading on different benches
SXSW offices
Courtesy of SXSW
Contemporary office kitchenette, light wood floor, ceiling, cabinets, long white table with modern barstools in center. Four young to middle-aged white people variously walking making coffee, sitting at a round white table.
Kitchen and dining area in SXSW offices
Courtesy of SXSW

SXSW offices, located on the 11th and 13th floors and including the rooftop patio, feature memorabilia from its 32 years of conferences in festivals mostly in the form of photo montages on some of the walls.

Wall with colorful photo montage and big white SXSW letters and arrow symbol on top
SXSW offices in the new SXSW Center
Cindy Widner
open-plan office with exposed concrete beams and posts blue chairs in foreground and background one red chair in background Cindy Widner
Interior corner with photo montage from past SXSW festivals Cindy Widner
Photo montage of Johny Cash and other musicians Cindy Widner
Two wooden crates with Peaches Records and Tapes labels containing vinyl records with white wall in background Cindy Widner

SXSW offices

Curving rooftop, new garden beds, patio with pergola, overlooking downtown, Hill Country on horizon
SXSW Center rooftop
Courtesy of SXSW