The Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas (VATAT) is a professional organization for agriculture science teachers that lobbies for and supports agriculture education in Texas. Its headquarters are located in downtown Austin within sight of the Capitol building in what was one of the original commercial districts in the city, an area that is typified by two and three-story buildings clad in local limestone.
A limited budget required targeted spending on certain design elements. We observed that the surrounding 1900’s era buildings were shaped by similar economic pressures and decided to look to these buildings as a model for our own. Like these, we clad only the street-facing sides of the office building in a coursed rubble pattern of local cordova cream limestone. Ornament is also used sparingly; in flattened pilasters, simple cast stone brackets, and a cast stone door surround. A standard-size wood window used throughout complements the palette of the traditional materials and ornament while reducing cost. By looking to historic commercial construction, the VATAT offices offer a model of the traditionally designed office building that fulfills the client’s needs while sustaining the local building fabric.