Project Info


Architect: Kevin Alter, Ernesto Cragnolino, Jonathan Schwartz, and Jodi Jacobsen / Alterstudio Architects, Austin, Texas
Contractor: Mark Rehberg, Ranserve, Austin

Design Therapy

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Natural light and a white backdrop help the primary colors pop in this educational therapy environment.

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• Design a modern office within a medical office development
• Create a calm and peaceful place for students with learning disabilities


A company that provides group and individual therapy for dyslexic students asked Alterstudio Architects to build out this 2,200-square foot commercial space. They charged the designers to create a soothing environment that would help students focus and concentrate. The architects’ successful fulfillment of this request starts in the lobby, where colorful wallpaper contrasts with a white backdrop. A distressed oak wall creates a warm backdrop for the company logo.

The existing building had few windows so the architects had to make the most of those, but it did have high clerestory windows that they optimized.The architects used a large light well in the center of the ceiling to flood the offices with natural light. Large glass interior windows and doors allow that light to move through the space.

Judges’ Comments

The judges noted that this was one of the strong commercial entries they reviewed in this year’s design awards. They praised the simple, artistic palette, which was created with a modest budget. “This project used a few materials in a compositionally edited way,” said one judge, noting that many other entries did not have the same restrained design. Another said the project didn’t “have a single false note through presentation to execution.”


Countertops: Nevamar, Pionite
Flooring: Armstrong, VCT tile
Hardware: Sargent
Lighting: Cooper Industries, Halo; Peerless; YLighting; Lithonia
Paints/stains: Sherwin Williams