The Varsity Theatre, prominently located across from the Austin campus of the University of Texas since 1936, remains an iconic presence along "The Drag" even long after the movie house ceased operations in 1995. Beloved by generations of students and local residents, the landmark's exterior was decorated in the 1970s with murals depicting legendary scenes from the history of cinema. Later occupants included a popular record store and a bookstore. Then, in 2010, the building's owners proposed a new mix of uses.
Antenora Architects was hired to adapt the building for ground-floor restaurants and second-story offices. Typical of theatres, there were very few windows and just one main entrance. Yet, to satisfy the project's programmatic demands, the design team thoughtfully added windows and storefronts with distinct entries. That required the restoration and relocation of the existing murals to allow for the new openings.
Further challenges included fulfilling the functional and code requirements of the restaurant and office tenants without diminishing the architecture's unique personality. In addition, the long-gone original "blade" signage was reconstructed and returned to the Guadalupe Street facade after a zoning variance was granted.
Penn Field Mixed-Use
Design Center of Austin
Monterey Oaks Office Building
6601 Burnet Road