The Phipps is an office building on the Museum Reach of the San Antonio Riverwalk. Attorney Martin J. Phipps approached design firm Durand-Hollis Rupe Inc. to create a workplace that would break the stereotype of the mahogany-walled lawyer's office.

Photo by Mark Menjivar
The Phipps

The building is half clad in locally sourced limestone and weathering steel panels, while the other half of the exterior is glazing protected by perforated metal screens. Natural light shines through the 64-sq-ft structural glass floors, stacked on each upper level. Structural steel and columns are exposed, while concrete floor decks are visible through the precisely placed conduits, mechanical runs and vapor-jar lighting.

The industrial style of the building created several challenges for the project team. All subcontractors were briefed on final product expectations—mechanical and electrical subcontractors in particular—since those systems would remain exposed.

The design team and contractor worked hard to find ways to reduce costs, including not painting any of the structural elements on the interior and leaving the steel with all the fabricator's markings and any imperfections visible.

The design team further reduced costs in the lighting package. Originally the design called for contemporary fixtures, but the approved package replaced the contemporary lights with vapor-jar lighting, creating a substantial savings.

Construction team leaders came on board early to work with designers and the owner to construct the building within a very short time frame. The construction schedule was originally set for 10 months. The contractor achieved a temporary certificate of occupancy before the completion date, thus meeting the owner's expectations.

Key Players

General Contractor G.W. Mitchell Construction, San Antonio

Owner Phipps Cavazos, San Antonio

Lead Design Durand-Hollis Rupe Inc., San Antonio