News Column

AT&T unveils plans for Austin innovation center

July 16, 2014

By Claudia Grisales, Austin American-Statesman

July 16--AT&T has unveiled plans for its first-of-its-kind Center for Innovation in downtown Austin.

The Dallas-based telecom giant on Tuesday said it will open the new multimillion-dollar facility in 15,000 square feet of downtown office space on Congress Avenue by 2015.

AT&T said it intends for the center to help drive the company's initiatives on technology, education and arts.

"The new Center for Innovation will serve as a gathering place for new ideas, new partnerships, new innovation, and real working solutions -- all to leverage the best of Austin and make it an even more livable city," the company said.

The center will be housed at the historical McKean-Eilers building at 323 Congress Ave., where it will include public space for creative efforts as well as space for dozens of workers, the company told the American-Statesman on Tuesday.

"Inspire, innovate, invent -- that is what our new Center of Innovation is all about," Dave Nichols, president of AT&T Texas said in a statement. "We're excited about the possibilities as we prepare to launch an epicenter for the visionary, creative ideas that will benefit Austin and beyond."

The center is the latest in a series of investments by AT&T in the Austin market.

In December, AT&T rolled out its fast-growing U-Verse service with its "GigaPower" feature, which offers speeds of up to 300 megabits per second. This year, it plans to increase those speeds to 1 gigabit per second and double the reach of its Austin-area fiber network -- already available to thousands of homes -- after an "incredible response" to the December rollout, said Tracy King, AT&T's vice president of public affairs.

The new innovation center could help raise the brand's profile in Austin.

"The new space will serve as a meeting ground and technology development center for Austin-area application developers, tech leaders, citizens and entrepreneurs," the company said in a written statement Tuesday.

The center will be split into two floors, with the building's first floor dedicated to an open creative space where artists and entrepreneurs can meet and mingle while up-and-coming local singers can perform. The studio will allow for the creation of unique content that could be distributed through AT&T's platforms on TV, online or mobile devices.

AT&T leased the office space last month and hired a local architectural firm to help design the space.

The center will retain its building's historical details while also featuring graffiti work by a local artist and high-tech features.

The first floor open space will showcase a 25-foot line of interactive TVs, booths with wireless monitors for presentations and meetings, a full kitchen and a circuit-board detailed concrete floor that will guide visitors around the space. AT&T will also house 50 workers on the third floor, and that team will be comprised of a mix of new hires and existing workers, King said.

AT&T will share the building's space with software and development firm Chaotic Moon Studios, located on the building's second floor.


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Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX)

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