From color schemes and designs to carpentry and finishes, there are many factors to consider when taking on a retail building project. Clients are faced with the struggle of finding the perfect contractor capable of meeting their specific needs. This list compiles six of the best retail contractors in Austin, Texas. These contractors were chosen based not only on their skills, prior experience, specialty services, and expertise. Given that Austin is the capital of the state of Texas, these firms are the companies behind some of the area’s most recognizable retail structures and have worked with numerous household brands.
Michael Hsu Office of Architecture
4910 Burnet Rd., Austin, TX 78756
With features in The New York Times and Curbed Austin, Michael Hsu Office of Architecture has been in business since 2005. The firm strives to create environmentally sound and sustainable designs and is known for its livable and neighborhood-oriented urban spaces. Aside from its retail projects, it is also known for its mixed-use developments, commercial interiors, and residences. It makes use of simple and clean designs and is known for making use of only the best materials. The firm emphasizes the importance of active collaboration among designers, clients, consultants, and craftsmen to reach cost-effective solutions. The firm also practices green building and design solutions, and it is no stranger to adaptive reuse projects.
The firm is manned by a talented team of 50 professionals with its founder and namesake Michael Hsu at its helm. Michael served as President of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Austin Chapter. Prior to his establishment of the firm, he gained experience by working at OMA in the Netherlands and in Dallas.
McKinney York Architects
1301 E 7th St., Austin, TX 78702
McKinney York Architects believes in the power of people and places to enrich lives. The goal of the firm is to connect people to each other and the world around them by creating architecture that engages, inspires, and belongs. The architecture created is beautiful, responsible, resource-efficient, smart, and often unexpected. The firm fosters strong collaborations with clients and welcomes unusual, complex, and challenging projects. Since 1983, the firm’s commitment to this empathetic focus, has produced a body of work that rarely repeats a style, strategy, or solution from one project to the next. Recipient of both the AIA Austin and Texas Society of Architects Firm Awards, McKinney York Architects is regarded as one of the leading design firms in Texas, with offices in Austin and San Antonio.
One of the firm’s most recent pieces of work is a boutique eyeglass store and optometrist office in Austin called Optique. The light and bright character of Optique’s exterior seeks to differentiate the store and office from the dark windows of its neighboring shops. A custom steel and glass storefront frames the entry pivot door while a glass vitrine projects onto the sidewalk showcasing a curated selection of eyewear. Shoppers are drawn inside the store, thanks to the store sign being projected from inside to above the sidewalk. Minimal furniture decorates the store proper, while merchandise and storage line the walls and maximize the space. Wood and mirrored panels are set in place to create a backdrop for the merchandise. The panels also articulate a rhythm that frames the “lab,” where the process of fabricating lenses is put on display.
2438 W Anderson Ln. Suite B-2, Austin, TX 78757
Headquartered in the heart of Austin, LEVY offers a full range of architecture and interior design services. It is a creative studio that devotes itself to a thorough process that takes into consideration a client’s needs and surroundings. The process requires meticulous planning and site analysis which factors in elements such as space, light, and surrounding context. The firm is no stranger to recognition and is a proud recipient of several noteworthy awards. Some of these include a 2013 Design Merit from the AIA as well as a 2011 Award of Excellence from the Texas Historical Commission. It has also been featured in a variety of publications like the Austin Business Journal, Travel & Leisure Magazine, and Austin San Antonio Urban Home Magazine. LEVY is also noted for playing an active role in its community. Each member of its team is required to dedicate a minimum of over two percent of their time to work in conjunction with at least one of the company’s partner organizations.
Its craftsmanship for commercial and retail project types is best seen in its work for 6555 Burnet Road, pictured above. For this project, the firm’s team was tasked with revamping the plaza’s street presence. It now features a clean white façade with contrasting blue tile tower elements.
1306 Rosewood Ave., Austin, TX 78702
Founded in 2005, Chioco Design is an award-winning firm that specializes in a variety of markets. Aside from its retail spaces, quaint private residences, industrial adaptive reuse projects, restaurants, bars, multi-use facilities, and public spaces. The firm has since fostered a diverse clientele list with these various project types, all of which has enabled the firm to contribute to the Austin community in the best way it knows how. It adheres to the philosophy of contextual design coupled with the use of innovative techniques. Its projects are often described to be functional and engaging as a result.
The firm is led by its founder and namesake Jamie Chioco, an experienced professional with nearly three decades of experience overseeing commercial, residential, and institutional projects. Mr. Chioco is personally involved throughout the entire process with each project and is a longtime resident of Austin, rendering him more than well-versed in its architectural vernacular. He finished his degree from the University of Oklahoma School of Architecture with top honors in 1995. Under his leadership, the firm’s work has been featured in dwell and Interior Design.
Forge Craft Architecture + Design
608 W Monroe St. Suite C, Austin, TX 78704
Forge Craft offers a comprehensive range of services with a particular emphasis on architecture, interior design, industrial and product design, furniture design, exhibition design, and—as of late—private, and civic real estate development. The firm is led by its founders Scott Ginder and Rommel Sulit, both of whom draw inspiration from years of experience and a deep understanding of design and construction. Prior to their establishment of the firm, Ginder spent 14 years in the office of Dick Clark Architecture where he worked on designing small and mid-size commercial projects, multi-family, custom residential, affordable housing, restaurants, and retail space. Sulit, on the other hand, worked with several large firms and concentrated on designing large commercial ground-up buildings.
The featured project above was completed for Jack Ryan Fine Jewelry. Given that it was completed for a high-end luxury store that sells items such as watches, jewelry, and accessories, this project demanded the best of the firm’s abilities. The result was this minimalist detailed space reminiscent of a museum. Vitrines of Starfire glass and teak cases crafted by some of the area’s best craftsmen line its walls coupled with art from the project’s owner.
hatch + ulland owen architects
1010 E 11th St., Austin, TX 78702
hatch + ulland owen architects (h+uo architects) is an Austin-based firm focused on visionary, sustainable, and socially-responsible design. Founded in 1978, h+uo architects is proud to use its dynamic design practice and wealth of architectural experience to interpret its clients’ visions and deliver high quality and contextually-responsive design solutions to decades of retail and commercial clients. The firm has had the privilege of working on over 65 Whole Foods Markets across the country, including the original Corporate Headquarters at 6th and Lamar. h+uo architects has also worked on other local companies and establishments such as Antone’s Night Club, Houndstooth Coffee, Threadgill’s, Thundercloud Subs, and nonprofits like Austin’s Habitat for Humanity and Foundation Communities.
Aside from the firm’s retail work, it also specializes in both single and multi-family residences, mixed-use communities, education, hospitality, and office projects. The firm also offers excellent master planning, project management, and interior design services. Interested clients may learn more about the firm and its breadth of work by visiting its website (https://huoarchitects.com) and perusing its design catalogs found on Issuu (https://issuu.com/huoarchitects).