The New Porsche Dealership in Austin: “Eight Levels of Endless Possibility”

Texas boasts the second-largest GDP in the U.S. behind California and boasts a young, fast-growing economy. Austin ranks as the #1 Tech Town and has several “Best” and “Hottest” labels, like U.S. Cities for Starting a Business, Places to Live in America, Hottest Big City Labor Market, and the list goes on. Considered the new high-tech corridor, Austin tech jobs represent more than 17 percent of all jobs in the area, compared to just nine percent nationally.

As Austin grows, so does the appetite for luxury cars, and the Hill Country is the perfect place to take a scenic and technical test drive. Hi Tech Motorcars, the Austin-based, family-run luxury auto dealer, expanded the Porsche dealership, and go big or go home could have easily been the moto. The tech workers are, after all, primary Porsche customers.

Ultra-Tec Railings in Austin

The new 186,000-square-foot facility, coined “eight levels of endless possibility,” is located in the Arboretum area of Austin. President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), Kjell Gruner, notes the facility “is designed with the customer in mind.” The $40 million project is, at the time of its opening, the largest Porsche dealership in the nation. 

Designed by Gensler, the dealership captures the brand’s “design values through inventive details.” It features a sunken coffee and customer lounge with views of the 30-stall state-of-the-art service center. It also includes an impressive two-story showroom, including classic and vintage Porsche lines. From the outside, your eye wanders to the rooftop sales lot showcasing ten Porsche cars with a remarkable window and lighting display using halo LED colored lighting above each car.

The design details capture the changing culture of retail. “If you want to know what the future of retail looks like, here you can see a great example of what defines excellence,” said Gruner in a press release statement by the company. He noted that the dealership’s design is centered on creating Porsche Passion. The environment exudes luxury, and the open sightlines add to the experience like the addition of cable railing to define areas of the showroom.

The project initially called for a glass infill, and there was a last-minute design change to a stainless-steel cable infill. The design parameters called for six-foot spacing between posts. “The railing had to serve as a vehicle barrier to keep the cars from being driven off the balcony,” said Wayne Uecker, owner of Texas Railing Systems, the fabricator and installer located in Kerrville, Texas.

The railing was a one-of-a-kind design. The railing framework, made from custom stainless-steel extrusions, includes 400 linear feet of Ultra-tec 1/4-inch diameter cable with Invisiware® fittings for a concealed and sleek finish. 

Because the design called for six-foot spans with the cable infill, we had Ultra-tec's engineering do some work so we could make it all work. The end posts had to be extremely sturdy - Wayne Uecker

Texas Railing Systems was the last trade and installation in the dealership because of the extra engineering needed to ensure a safe and secure railing. Saving the best for last is on par with Porsche’s design values and details.

From zoom zoom to relaxing lake front views, we’d like to take a moment to feature our top three winners of the 2021 photo contest.

Each project showcases Ultra-tec cable railing infill, fittings, and hardware in three Several of the 2020 photo contest entries made it into our inaugural Lookbook, and we look forward to including the 2021 entries and winners for our next one.

It’s always a tough decision, and we are excited to share the 2021 Ultra-tec photo contest winners. Congratulations!

The 2021 Contest Winner: Texas Railing Systems for a Porsche dealership in Austin, Texas, using 400 linear feet of Ultra-tec 1/4-inch cable infill, custom framework, and our Invisiware fittings for a one-of-a-kind seamless design.

Texas Metal Industries, Inc., our second-place winner, showcases Ultra-tec cable infill on a custom cedar home by Lindal Cedar Homes overlooking a lake in Traverse City, Michigan.

Homeowner Matthew Lukens from Logan Martin Lake, just east of Birmingham, Alabama, replaced his wood slat railings with Ultra-tec cable infill through composite-sleeved posts using our Push-Lock® system is our third-place winner. Matthew found Ultra-tec through a web search, viewed our YouTube installation videos, and installed it on his own. He can now overlook the lake and watch his grandchildren from the comfort of his deck.

Thank you to all who participated in 2021. Stay tuned for our second Lookbook and look for an announcement coming May 1st of our 2022 photo contest.

Please keep sending us your project photos. We’d love to feature them on our website and a testimonial blog. Click here to upload your 2022 project photos.

Lakefront deck and railing rehab

Homeowner, Matthew Lukens, built a second home located on Logan Martin Lake in east-central Alabama (just east of Birmingham) in 1989. His decking, overlooking the lake, was in dire need of an upgrade. The railing, made from 1 x 6 wood slats he cut down to 1 x 4 and installed in three horizontal rows, didn’t meet code. But his heart was in the right place. “I put the boards up like that so my grandchildren wouldn’t fall through,” said Matthew.

He knew he needed to replace the deck and complete a railing rehab, and so through the power of the internet, Matthew found a composite decking material he liked and Ultra-tec cable railing infill, fittings, and hardware.

“I found a YouTube video on installing Ultra-tec and thought, ‘I can do that,’” said Matthew.

Matthew installed gray composite decking, using 4 x 4 wood posts, and routed the edges and top to fit the top rail. He installed 1/8-inch stainless steel cable railing infill from Ultra-tec and used the ease of the Push-Lock® system to tension the cable. The Push-Lock fitting is swageless, meaning the cable attaches to the fitting using a locking wedge system, making on site assembly easy.

“I pre-drilled the holes for the cable connectors and stained the 4 x 4 before I put the cables through,” added Matthew.

His beautiful work came to fruition when he submitted his project to the 2021 Ultra-tec photo contest and winning the third prize of $125 gift card.

“It worked out great,” said Matthew. “It worked just like the video showed. I love how the new deck looks, and I did it all on my own.”

before deck rehab
after railling rehab

Connecting with nature: a transformative solution

SMC3 is a leader in less than truckload (LTL) freight shipping data and solution provider that helps optimize the LTL transportation throughout the supply chain. For more than 80 years, SMC3 has supported this complex transportation niche comprising more than 5,000 North American shippers, carriers, logistics service providers (LSPs), and freight payment companies.


In the last few years, the company has experienced immense growth. Instead of moving their headquarters to an existing space, they created a new headquarters located in Peachtree City, Georgia. The company CEO Andrew Slusher commented in The Citizen at the groundbreaking that the new headquarters “…has been designed to enhance productivity and collaboration among team members and with our customer base.”

Breaking Ground: Three Story Atrium

The company broke ground on the 74,000 square foot, three-story atrium on January 30, 2019, and moved in on August 20, 2020. “From beginning to end — design to move-in — took less than two years,” said Jefferson, Founder and CEO, of Jefferson Browne Gresham Architects, the architect of record for the project.  “Nature, sustainability, wellness and evidence-based design principles guide the process,” he added


“The leadership at SMC3 wanted the building to be a transformative and inspirational settings to enhance creativity, clarity of thought and innovation to deliver SMC3’s mission as the transportation industry standard for intelligent data, technology and education solutions,” said Jefferson. “Designed with connections with nature, movement and momentum, health and wellness, and the concept of “Truth of Materials” that demonstrate the values of honesty and integrity, with structural elements emphasizing nature in the built and the natural environments,” said Jefferson.


Balance was integral to the entire building. “The client wanted something that reflected technology and is inviting to current, long-time employees as well as new, future tech-driven employees,” said Beth Anderson, owner of Blue Fox Designs. “I’ve worked with SMC3 since 2012, and they’ve experienced remarkable growth during that time, from being in a very traditional office building to something that reflects where the company is heading in the future.”


The community and neighborhoods were involved and participated in charettes and the initial design process. “We talked about placement of the building and why; we created a buffer between the community and the commercial areas,” said Jefferson. SMC3 understands the importance of community and blending in.

Balancing Interior and Exterior: Cable Railing Installation

Carefully and thoughtfully chosen exterior and interior kept everything balanced and natural. “The interior space speaks of movement and momentum always pressing forward,” said Jefferson. The use of natural wood — the largest glulam’s they could find — so you’d get a sense of being in the forest, with bolted connects in iron ore.


The use of natural colors, modern furnishings, and fabrics — crushed velvet, faux felt — with a sprinkle of blue throughout related to each other and moves through the building. Skylights throughout the building keep the open feeling. There are no shades or blinds, choosing instead to install automatic tinting glass as the sun moves from east to west — the use of cable railing to expand and open the sightline throughout the interior.


The exposed metal and timber beams throughout, along with the natural materials, were intentional. The cable railing falls nicely into the standards created — very systematic and balanced — to communicate harmony along with acoustical metal decking.


“The transparency of the rail, not being a barrier to the natural elements and daylight, that was incredibly important to them,” said Jefferson. “A conventional railing system would have created a visual barrier and shortened the site lines and wouldn’t have felt as expansive and open.”


Ultra-tec cable railing and hardware were supplied and installed by G&F Southeast Distributors, Inc throughout the SMC3 building. “All the metal posts are custom, and we laser cut all of them working with a steel fabricator,” Said Brian of G&F. “It is a one-of-a-kind project, and there’s nothing like it anywhere. “The Ultra-tec system worked perfectly for Jefferson’s design.”


“When you’re inside the building, you feel like your outside,” said Jefferson.

Sanctuary For The Species

For more than 50-years, the Houston Audubon Society’s mission is to advance the conservation of birds with its bird sanctuaries, educational programs, and experiences for people of all ages. The society owns and manages 17 nature sanctuaries totaling 3,400 acres throughout the Houston-Galveston area. The freshwater ponds, forest canopy, and sub-canopy offer migrating bird species a welcome respite and a perfect place for bird watchers of the human sort. 

Out of the 17 sanctuaries, the Rookery at Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary in High Island added an impressive “bird’s-eye” viewing experience in the spring of 2020. The $2.3 million nature tourism enhancement, funded by John P. McGovern Foundation, features a 700-foot-long elevated boardwalk with various levels, some as high as 20-feet above ground, for human species to view bird species. 

Boardwalk Design

Designed to complement the sanctuary’s natural setting, it is the first elevated walkway for the most popular birding destination in the nation. “We believe this unique experience will attract even more birders, photographers, and nature enthusiasts to the Upper Texas Coast,” said Helen Drummond, Executive Director of the Houston Audubon.

The designers, architecture firm SWA, noted that camouflage was an essential consideration in their design. “The client asked that it not ‘stand out,’ so we were careful not to disturb the birds and other wildlife,” said Natalia Beard, principal at SWA. The firm chose materials that will blend in with the surrounding vegetation. 

According to SWA, “support structures needed to be resilient to withstand the salt air…”, which made Ultra-tec cable railing and Invisiware® fixtures a perfect fit. Ultra-tec products are made of recycled materials in a state-of-the-art facility and qualify for LEED credits. Stainless-steel is composed of corrosion-resistant properties and often chosen for projects near salt-water with high humidity, such as the Houston Audubon bird sanctuary walkway.

The well thought out design and chosen material of the walkway offer a unique viewing of every day to rare bird species and an educational platform for all ages, withstanding the harsh environment for years to come.

SWA Press Release, August 21, 2019: SWA Group Designers Treat Visitors to Bird’s-Eye View at Audubon Nature Tourism Spot in Texas
Houston Audubon Press Release, April 8, 2019: High Island Nature Tourism Enhancement Project Press Release
Houston Audubon website

Smithbuilt Cable Railing Project

Community walkway receives an upgrade

Greg Smith, P.E., owner of Smithbuilt LLC in Beaufort, South Carolina, recently finished a bridge railing along a public corridor in a master development. A private 1,400-acre barrier island, Harbor Island is a gated community home to vacation rentals and outdoor recreation.

The walkway railing along the community bridge was in dire need of replacement and upgrades to meet building codes. The old railings, built entirely of wood, were traditional 4 x 6 posts with 2 x 4 mid-rails and a 2 x 6 top rail, a pretty standard design. The project included tearing down the old railings and replacing with cable railing.

“The Homeowners Association gave me the latitude to choose the product, and I chose stainless steel cable,” said Greg. “What I like about Ultra-tec is that it has a more structurally sound connection to the timber by going through the entire post.”

Although the area is home to residential and short-term rentals, the project is part of the public domain and considered commercial. “We had to provide full structural drawings to the municipality for review,” said Greg.


Product, outstanding customer service, and resources you can count on

“I had not used Ultra-tec before, and the primary reason why I looked at them was because they offered the stud system and the ability to drill through the post and use it for support,” said Greg. “I’m not a big fan of the lag bolt or screw in receiver, and Ultra- tec provides a through-the-post-mounted fitting called Invisiware® receiver.”

Ultra-tec was also able to provide cut sheets for all the fittings and fixtures, which helped Greg’s efforts in the permitting process. “Their customer support, structural drawings, and documentation was incredibly helpful to meet the permitting requirements,” he added.

“Because the project required an extended length of cable, I wanted to make sure I was using a system that could stand up to every day commercial use,” said Greg.

As a Professional Engineer specializing in marine construction, Greg served as a Navy Civil Engineer Corps Officer and has worked on a number of commercial construction projects throughout his career. He’s used other cabling systems, some with large stretches of cable and he trusts Ultra-tec. “I’m about to install Ultra-tec on a 400-foot marine dock.”

Since the 1900’s The Smith Family has been constructing roads, dams, runways, and buildings. In 2018, after serving his country for more than eight years, he formed Smithbuilt specializing in general and marine construction. 

cable attached to wooden post

Commercial Vertical Cable with Invisiware® Receivers

Law offices move to higher ground with impressive style

Haynes & Boone, LLP, one of Houston’s largest corporate law clients, recently moved to higher ground—occupying the 38th, 39th, and 40th floors in the LyondellBasell Tower Houston Center property, an urban, mixed-use office campus in the center of downtown. The client recently completed a multi-million-dollar renovation improvement, designed by Houston-based Kirksey Architecture and remodeled by HITT.

The public area located on the 40th floor consists of half reception and half office area. “We wanted to create a very welcoming hospitality-like space and used high-end finishes in warm and earth tones blending stone, antique bronze interior glazing frames and wall cladding, and rich velvet fabrics,” said Liang Wu, AIA, LEED AP, and senior associate at Kirksey Architecture. A lovely welcoming statement for visitors.


Interconnecting stairs make an entrance

The previous space, also three floors, featured an interconnecting stair system between floors, and the client wanted the same for the new space. Instead of using the existing stair in place, Kirksey Architecture designed new interconnecting stairs within the general office area. Local fabricator Hybrid Fab, known for its architectural metal design, fabrication, and installation expertise, fabricated the decorative metal around the stairs.

The stair treads were finished with a neutral color to blend seamlessly with the high-end look and feel of the space, using LVT (luxury vinyl tile) resembling a natural wood. The landings on the office floors — 38 and 39 — use more durable materials like porcelain tile with a marble pattern and LVT to endure day-to-day use, while the reception features natural wood consistent with the high-end finishes for the client’s guests.

Cable railing adds creative element

Taking a cue from the resimercial design trend — merging residential aesthetics into commercial spaces — to boost employee creativity and innovation, Kirksey showed the client images of inspiration during the design phase. One of the design elements, cable railings for the interconnected stair system, the client liked, and it became a focal point.

The drawings called for suspended vertical cables, and there are 55 cables on either side of the stairway. Kirksey engaged with Hybrid Fab to design the cable railings.

Blair Corporation, Hybrid Fab’s go-to for cable railing installations, sent a variety of Ultra-tec cable diameters to consider for the project. Hybrid Fab conducted 10-foot vertical tensioning testing with the cable. When you tension all 55 cables at 220 psi, that’s a lot of pulled weight and the area couldn’t span that much tension vertically.

“It was at that time we knew the cable would become a decorative element rather than a structural matter,” said Wu. “We used full height structural glass for the vertical span in conjunction with a stainless-steel guard rail for code compliance.”


Quality products offer unobstructed views

Jack Blair, owner of Blair Corporation, and his crew installed Ultra-tec cables using Invisiware® fittings and accessories for an impressive finish to complement the overall design aesthetics. “Ultra-tec offers a very consistent, high quality product and well thought out design,” said Blair. “Ultra-tec’s products are easy to work with and install.”

With sweeping views of the city from virtually all four sides of the office building, material choices mattered. The use of cable railings offers unobstructed views, and now employees of Haynes and Boone can enjoy from their office and while using the interconnecting stairs. An excellent office perk for all.