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Powering creativity and collaboration for an Austin icon
Austin, TX


With roots dating back to the 1980s, the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival has become synonymous with Austin culture. Best known for its conference and festivals that bring together the most creative minds in the interactive, film and music industries, SXSW is a magnet for innovation and collaboration. After months of construction, the organization is now the flagship tenant in the eponymous SXSW Center, a curvilinear architectural gem in downtown Austin, featuring panoramic views of the Capitol and surrounding Hill Country. In a departure from traditional function, world-renowned architectural firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and architect of record Gensler turned to Ketra lighting to execute their vision of a building lobby that serves not only as a beautiful welcome space, but a featured workspace as well.

Design Goals

  1. Physically manifest the SXSW brand
  2. Achieve LEED Gold certification
  3. Create a space to foster creative collaboration
  4. Reflect the innovative spirit of Austin


On the sustainability side, LEED Gold certification requires careful planning and specific standards for lighting and other physical systems. And given their larger-than-life creative energy, channeling the spirit of SXSW and Austin through light would require an exceptional combination of advanced technology and artistic design.

The Solution

Creative shapes combined with Ketra’s tunable, High Def Palette of colors were the plan for delivering a carefully curated space that shines. Fixtures illuminate a series of triangular cutouts in the ceiling with wooden slats over them that bring to mind guitar strings over a sound hole, while a swath of backlit SXSW logos shine as wall installations. Both the G2 cove lights and the logo wall are set to change color every 30 seconds, so anyone who sits in the lobby for even five minutes will see a wide spectrum of beautiful, true colors.


Project photography by Andrea Calo.


Visitors to the SXSW Center lobby enjoy a vibrant but relaxed look and feel that reflects the innovative spirit of SXSW and Austin. Functioning as a gathering place to foster creativity and encourage the mix of ideas between tenants and guests, the activated space offers both indoor and outdoor work areas. In addition to the energizing atmosphere achieved through the colorful lighting, the lobby’s coffee bar offers a menu of drinks and grab and go meals, making it an ideal place to grab a morning coffee or a midday snack — and serve as an inspiring hub for 24-hour-a-day creative expression.

Products Used

G2 Linear
S30 Lamp
N4 Hub
N3 Satellite

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