University of Texas School of Architecture Renovation

Austin, TX

Project Description

The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture (UTSOA) West Mall building was a “warren of tiny rooms” built in 1960. It was critical to redesign two floors of the building to better serve the needs of the students and faculty by providing flexible workspaces and integrating digital technologies. One of the key considerations was to design spaces that would be intimate enough to optimize acoustics yet ensure sufficient room for work to be displayed.

On one of the floors, the Page team’s renovation solution was to face the three fully-equipped digital classrooms with floor-to-ceiling glass, creating a sense of continuous space. The remaining space is now a long gallery with tall, west-facing windows with wall-size pivoting panels that can block the Texas sun if necessary and double as pin-up boards. Exposed concrete floors and ceilings frame floor-to-ceiling glazing defining the classrooms, which have capacity for 30 to 40 students and feature fully integrated technology with large screens. The other floor contains faculty offices, meeting rooms, and research spaces.

For UTSOA, the most important aspect of the renovation is putting a pedagogical shift that bridges the divide between the digital technology and traditional drawing camps on display. One of the advanced studio classes at UTSOA, led by Associate Professor Kory Bieg, was invited to design and construct a wall piece for the new classroom area utilizing both digital and analog tools. The resulting installation “Onda” is a digitally-designed, hand-assembled sculpture derived by mixing the topography of the UT campus with an abstract, computer-generated topography. It serves as the visual hallmark for the West Mall renovation and will be instantly identifiable in photographs to any architecture student or aficionado.