Mall Makeover: Rackspace Has Transformed a Vacant Mall in San Antonio into a Hub of High-Tech Growth

Article excerpt

In a distressed part of San Antonio, Texas, leaders at Rackspace--a web and cloud-hosting company--saw an opportunity to expand the company while also revitalizing their community. Rackspace has been growing exponentially since its founding in 1998.

With its employees--called Rackers--spread throughout several different office locations around San Antonio, the company's leadership recognized a need for more space. They wanted a space large enough to bring all of its employees under one roof, in an innovative and inspired setting.

"They wanted our employees to be together," said Melissa Gray, Rackspace Director of Sustainability. "Rackers thrive on collaboration and chance meetings. It was harder to do that with everyone spread across the city."

The company's leaders found all of this and more in the city's defunct Windsor Park Mall, which went dark in the 1990s. Today, the 1.2 million square foot "recycled" shopping mall is home to the state-of-the-art Rackspace headquarters, called the "Castle." Upon entering the Castle, visitors and employees are welcomed by the Rackspace Museum. The museum's large timeline reveals the seminal moments in Rackspace's history and details the company's rapid growth.

"The expansive [former mall] space offers the company flexibility and options to imagine anything for the future." said Gray. "It's a blank canvas, open for innovation and big ideas. The massive size allows us to use space for corporate parties and kickoffs, outside conferences and summits. The possibilities are endless."

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The interior has a natural feel with skylights filling the space with light, stone accents, indoor trees and a bright color scheme that includes green carpeting. However, while the overall look, feel and functionality of the sprawling shopping mall has certainly changed, the property still maintains a mall-like quality in its easy-to-navigate design.

"The company intentionally kept the mall layout," said Gray. "Malls are designed so shoppers can hit a variety of shops in a relatively short amount of time, with not that much distance between stops. At Rackspace, we have a collaborative culture where employees have access to all departments and leadership. It's not uncommon for marketing to work with support; for sales to need help from finance. It's widely believed that good ideas are good ideas, no matter where they come from. The mall design is one way to ensure the best ideas are realized?"

One of the ways Rackspace brings its collaborative culture to life within the Castle is through its "no office" policy. All Rackers from frontline support techs to senior leaders--work in cubicles.

However, these are not your average cubicles. Employees are given the creative freedom to personalize their workspaces to meet their needs and preferences. Rackers can order whatever kind of computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse and other technologies they prefer rather than using a standard issue computer. …