Gay Gaddis Brings Home Into the Workplace

Gay Gaddis Brings Home Into the Workplace

Chris Perez
Jun 28, 2012

Name: T3
Location: Austin, Texas
Size: 35,488 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years

What's Apartment Therapy doing at a big corporate office? Ah, that's because this isn't your typical commercial workspace. CEO and founder Gay Gaddis has put her personal touch onto just about every corner of her company's Austin headquarters. Combining elements of vintage decor elements with modern technologies, she's managed to create a space that operates like an office, yet feels like home...

T3, short for The Think Tank, prides itself on approaching problems from different perspectives to arrive at winning (though sometimes unconventional) strategies. So when T3 started to outgrow their original facilities - a plot of small converted and segregated homes - that same philosophy took hold. Instead of simply moving into a larger corporate office, why not hire the same architects that she worked with for her home to create a thoughtful open space where workers are free to roam, exchange ideas, and stay engaged with one another?

Gay did just that, enlisting architects Elizabeth Danze and John Blood to apply their design philosophies to a historical building once used for the Texas Medical Association. John noted that to establish a real sense of comfort within a space it's important to feel its expanse not only horizontally but also vertically. Working within the beautiful concrete bones of the structure, they were able to achieve this — establishing large communal spaces unrestricted by the bounds of partitions and ceilings. The sense of time and history are also kept intact by maintaining much of the original entry - large wooden doors with intricate etchings that open to a marble staircase that winds up and around the gilded chandelier.

Gay's approach to the interior decor of T3's headquarters is not much different than that of her own home — as she has integrated antique finds and thrift store treasures into the mid-century structure. You'll spot several large-scale model planes (acquired from a shop in Blanco, TX) that seemingly soar throughout the main floor. The most striking piece however, is the large gold frame mirror from The Driskill — Austin's oldest operating hotel — that serves as the focal point to a meeting area they call "The Jewel Box." Everything has purpose, place, and significance.

After being discouraged by all the commercial options available for office desks, Gay collaborated with the architects on a custom solution. They developed a structure composed of interlinked steel pipes and magnetic white boards that complement the industrial feel of the exposed air ducts they lie beneath. This type of DIY ingenuity also shows itself in the Radio Flyer carts used to tote around supplies, and in the themed bathrooms personally curated by Gay — her favorite being the 'hat and mustache bathroom' that's filled with pictures of old Hollywood actors such as Clark Gable and John Wayne. All these touches work together to make the space feel fun, warm and inviting. Much like Gay's attitude and down-to-earth approachability, the T3 space here in Austin simply has a personality you feel at home with.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our style: Eclectic without letting it look like an antique showroom, so it is more about new modern pieces juxtaposed with interesting antiques and collectors' items. Things that can inspire thinking. A lot of what we have in the building goes back to the early days of the advertising industry, like the antique TV's, so keeping the theme of our industry was important when designing the space. We also brought in our interior designer, Mark Ashby, to help find interesting furniture pieces (old and new) that would complement the space. He is a good friend of ours, and really understands our aesthetic and what we were trying to accomplish for the building

The inspiration for the space: This is an iconic 50's building, and when we started exposing some of the original bones, it inspired us to take it back to its original structure which was very industrial looking with a lot of exposed concrete and brick. The building itself was our inspiration for the space.

Favorite element in the space: The T3 "Innovation Lab" living room is our favorite element in the office. It was created to reflect what's happening in consumer's living rooms, and to show how they interact with technology, make purchase decisions and buy things. Not only does it have a great design, but it is also a great research tool for T3.

Biggest challenge in designing space: [From Elizabeth Danze and John Blood] The existing building, which was originally constructed for the Texas Medical Association was a wonderful structure to work with. Centrally located in Austin, it is a local landmark that has a strong presence in the city. The dynamic and animated nature of T3's imaginative teamwork encouraged us to open the interior in a way that acted as a counterpoint to the original building's stately presence.

Fifty years of partitioning and subdividing had created many small offices and maze-like corridors. With the exception of the west foyer and ceremonial stair, all of the interior partitions and suspended ceilings were removed revealing the building's original concrete structure and a newly updated mechanical system was added. A central double height meeting room labeled "the Jewel Box" is enclosed with LED illuminated, translucent polycarbonate panels and visually connects to the interactive media wall, employee café and the original entrance foyer.

What friends say about my space: People are really excited to see how we took this iconic 50's building and transformed it into a completely different and modern space while still keeping interior elements from the original design. People also love the unique interior design features and found objects all around the building; they say it gives the space a fun and quirky look.

Area where there is room for improvement/future projects: Our basement is still pretty unfinished, so we are working to improve that space and add work areas and conference rooms, as well as a recreational area where people can enjoy playing Ping-Pong or doing yoga. We also have a parking garage that has a great rooftop with views of Pease Park and downtown Austin, so we have considered utilizing that space by hosting parties and events up there.

Biggest indulgence with respect to my space: We have a large interactive media wall in our lobby called a "Hiperwall". It combines 9 flat screens into one, and can stream live video and content from the web. It also has a jukebox feature programmed into it so that people can select songs from their desk, and they are played in our lobby throughout the day. The video quality is so crisp and clear, and it always has a big impact when people walk in.

Best advice about organizing or incorporating tech into the home: As an advertising agency, technology is a huge part of what we do, and we are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest technologies. We have an office in Austin, as well as New York and San Francisco, so when we bring in a new technology we want to make sure that it integrates with all three of our offices to create a seamless experience. For instance, we have a video conferencing tool where we can see and talk to all three offices at one time. This allows for excellent collaboration and communication.

Favorite source for furnishings / equipment: We have found a lot of our furniture from Design Within Reach, Room & Board, West Elm and CB2. We also like to shop at flea markets, antique stores and anywhere you can find unique one of a kind pieces.


Notable Tech Hardware:

  • We use SMART Boards in all of our conference rooms. This is an interactive white board that lets you take digital notes and share work.
  • We have a Hiperwall in our lobby that allows us to stream video and other content from the web onto a large digital screen.
  • Samsung Smart TV

Furniture (The Jewel Box):

  • Gold Mirror from The Driskill
  • Sofa / Chairs from Design within Reach
  • Rug from One King's Lane


  • Model Planes from shop in main square of Blanco, TX

Special Thanks to Rebecca Gaddis for helping organize this! Thanks also to Gay Gaddis, Elizabeth Danze, and John Blood.

(Images: Chris Perez)

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