The Austin Treatment: Allergan’s Customer Experience Hub
Within the last few years, Austin, Texas has emerged as one of the US’s hottest tech towns, drawing in big firms and key talent due to its favorable market, arts and culture, and quality-of-life perks. Life sciences and healthcare organizations are following suit, including pharmaceutical company Allergan, which recently joined global firm AbbVie.
Allergan—the maker of Botox and other medical aesthetic, eye care, nervous system, and gastro-related products—has been in Austin for years. But as the company has grown, it needed to expand, en-gaging Structure Tone Southwest to help assess potential buildings for its growing customer experience center which, according to Allergan, fields more than 1 million calls a year from medical offices. The firm settled on an existing 107,000sf building in Northwest Austin, with a vision of not only offering state-of-the-art office space for its hard-working employees but also a training hub for the medical professionals who use one of its products.
The project scope included fitting out four full floors of high-end interior office space, as well as updating the main-floor lobby, fitness center, conference center, and café area. About 9,000sf of that space was also dedicated to Allergan’s CoolSculpting University—a training center for doctors, dermatologists, aestheticians, and other professionals to become certified in Allergan’s patented fat treatment procedure.
“People can fly in from all over the country for seminars on the procedure and to learn how to do it in a hands-on setting,” says Ryan McGovern, Structure Tone Southwest senior project manager. “The training space includes simulation areas with associated video cameras and AV systems so others can watch a procedure in progress.”
Ironically, while the building itself houses incredibly smart professionals discussing in-credibly complex topics, the most challenging aspects of the fit-out itself were more basic: permitting and labor. “The way the city handles permitting meant this project had to be broken down into six individual building permits,” McGovern says. “We had to be a little more deliberate in our planning on the front end to make sure we followed the plan our permits allowed.”
Like many cities across the US, skilled labor also became a challenge. High-end, qualified subs were in short supply, and the Structure Tone team had to put in extra effort to ensure the project was built to the level of quality the client—and the company itself—expected.
“With this ongoing shortage, it’s really been incumbent on our folks to plan, schedule, and sequence everything very proactive-ly,” says McGovern. “We’ve had to constantly think ahead and get creative to make sure things move forward smoothly.”
Despite these trials, however, Allergan and the Structure Tone Southwest team were able to open the new space on time as planned, which McGovern, for one, is especially proud of. “Completing this project for a valued repeat client was a nice milestone for our team,” he says. “It was rewarding to not only see a satisfied client but also to see how our team has really come together as a unit.”