Inside the Offices of T3 in Austin

Keeping Austin weird in a renovated limestone building dating from the 1950s

A few months past our 30th birthday, T3 has kept pace with Austin's growth from its roots as a college town, state capital and "Live Music Capital of the World" to a fast-growing international center of creativity and innovation. In that time, T3 has grown from a three-person startup to an innovation agency with more than 200 people with national clients and offices around the country. Yet our spirit and headquarters are still deeply rooted in Austin.

The "Keep Austin Weird" vibe is certainly part of our culture. Our previous office was a single historic mansion in the leafy Judges' Hill area of central Austin, which quickly grew to a campus cluster of four historic homes. When we outgrew that space, we wanted to unify teams in a single building while staying close to the thriving entertainment districts and the University of Texas. We sit on North Lamar Boulevard, which is right across from Austin's treasured Pease Park that winds alongside Shoal Creek and dates to 1875. 

The answer turned out to be less than a minute away in a classic 1950s-era building that was originally constructed to serve as the Texas Medical Association Library. Built in 1952, the architecture of the limestone building was termed "modern" at the time and featured rectangular lines, a flat roof and long horizontal windows along the northeastern side. The space has large first and second floors, a usable basement and two mezzanine wings that were added at some point in the building's past. 

When T3 purchased the building in 2012, the once-proud structure had been subjected to 50 years of partitioning and subdividing that turned the interior into a warren of small office suites. But looking beyond the chaos (and wood paneling), our management team and architects saw the bones that could create a collaborative Think Tank culture and open approach to creating work.

Our founder and CEO, Gay Gaddis, and chairman, Lee Gaddis, were immediately drawn to the raw character of the structure and its original integrity. With the exception of the elegant central entrance foyer and staircase, all interior partitioning and walls were removed, revealing the building's concrete structure, and creating spacious, naturally lit open work areas that our team finds conducive to creativity and collaboration. 

The lobby features a large, interactive media wall, an open employee café, and a glass and polycarbonate paneled "jewel box" conference room. The building's architect designed the metal reception desk to resemble the brand of the Gaddis' Double Heart Ranch in the Texas Hill Country. 

Our conference rooms and "Tanks" are named after Austin music venues. Whimsical period antiques are placed throughout the building. Radio-controlled planes hang from ceilings, a historic mirror from Austin's Driskill Hotel graces the jewel box conference room, a bingo board spells out T3, and a wall mount of one of the Gaddis family's prized Longhorn cattle, Oreo, watches over the café. 

Open seating plans were purposefully designed to encourage both planned and spontaneous collaboration. T3ers sit in areas according to their client or department teams, while the same holds true for management, who sit at intersection areas on different floors. For example, executive creative director Chris Wooster and I sit in a back corner facing out to more than 50 people in creative and other departments, which matches our "manage by wandering" workstyle. 

Another unique part of T3's culture and space is that it welcomes babies and their parents to spend the first months of their lives in the T3 & Under program, with a private area reserved as a nursery. More than 100 children, moms and dads have come through the program. Fur babies are also welcome at T3. Currently, almost 40 pups are enrolled in our Dogs of T3 program.

One of our favorite elements of the space, though, is the outdoor café-style seating area, which most of us find ourselves either meeting, eating or working in under the incredible 100-year-old trees. As you can imagine, it also comes in handy for parties and events, especially during SXSW and into the early summer months (before Texas temps skyrocket). 

Our offices are a working demonstration of T3's Think Tank culture that embraces open collaboration in a useful, energetic environment that brings people and ideas together.

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