Metropolis : Michael Hsu’s New Office for James Avery Brings the Spirit of the Texas Hill Country to Suburban Austin

With the real estate market in central Austin hitting unprecedented heights and a headquarters located in relatively rural Kerrville, Texas, jewelry brand James Avery settled on a nine-acre wooded suburban site to develop a new satellite office. Turning to Michael Hsu Office of Architecture to design a 39,000-square-foot facility in the Cedar Park community, the company intended to attract tech talent from the Austin area in addition to providing a retail location and leasable space for other tenants on the second floor.

interior of an office showing a detail of a curved banquette

Maija Kreishman, principal of Michael Hsu Architects, explains that the client “wanted a string between the values” of Kerrville, the town where James Avery was founded in 1954 and is still based, and Cedar Park, located just over 20 miles northwest of Austin proper. “Their values start with integrity and craftsmanship and social responsibility,” Kreishman says. “When it came to both the design of the building and the interior, we wanted to reflect that.”

The Austin-based Michael Hsu team devised a hybrid method using steel and cross-laminated timber construction to bring in a warm, residential feel while allowing for generous spans. “We really approached the design as if it was residential in nature,” Kreishman notes. “We love the idea of being able to use the CLT deck members to cantilever out and provide residential eaves. It felt very fitting.”

interior of an office showing a cafe area with a curved banquette

Other elements are akin to the firm’s residential commissions, such as solar orientation and careful consideration of the property’s mature trees. The structure is sited to protect and celebrate the existing live oak heritage trees, views of which are intentionally highlighted from the interior spaces through large expanses of glass. These features also connect the new hub to James Avery’s roots in West Texas so that there’s “a Hill Country retreat vibe,” Kreishman adds.

Interiors feature a “very honest” materials selection, which means leaving the steel and CLT exposed and emphasizing tactility. “We tried to work with the interior to the level of detail that would reflect the craft of the jewelry,” Kreishman says. The so-called “collaboration corridor” features a custom fabricated sinewy wood and leather banquette that winds its way into the main lounge area. Other materials include light stained wood, weathered steel, and bronze and brass accent pieces. (The Cedar Park facility has a small studio, but the jewelry is still mostly made in Kerrville.)

interior of an office with a wooden ceiling and long couch

Michael Hsu’s prolific work in the residential and hospitality sectors made “this project, in particular, a pretty amazing fusion of them both,” Kreishman observes. Within the fairly muted color palette are moments where James Avery signature coral color is applied to door and window frames “as a little bit of a counterbalance to all the organic materials,” Kreishman says.

Given that the project brief was “to make this feel like our home away from Kerrville, we took that quite literally,” Kreishman observes. “When you talk about a home, it wouldn’t be overly branded—but it quietly tells a story and welcomes you in.”

 

Originally published on Metropolis