“This is such a well-designed, integrated and coherent building…This program and this building are about fusion and collaboration. Meeting rooms, common areas, and open spaces are strategically placed throughout the building to encourage students and faculty to interact, inter-think, inter-dream, and forge new harmonies.”
– Dr. Dennis Kratz, Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities
The University of Texas, Dallas chose STUDIOS as Design Architect for the new Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology (ATEC) Building, which helps define the gateway to the campus. The ATEC building also includes a 1,200-seat auditorium as well as the new School of Visual Arts. The project has a significant architectural presence while also respecting the existing campus context and environment.
The concept for the building is that of a portal, architecturally communicating the convergence of art and technology. It is the University’s intent that the building’s program “brings together the knowledge and expertise of computer science, engineering, creative arts, and the humanities to develop new dimensions and new opportunities in education, technology, training, communication and commerce”.
The ATEC program is “an interdisciplinary curriculum that prepares students to excel in the media rich, technologically sophisticated world of the 21st century”. The plan of the building is designed around a neighborhood cluster concept in order to facilitate collaboration between and within faculty, graduate, and undergraduate groups, and researchers. Instructional laboratories, graduate seminar rooms, design studios, and faculty and graduate offices are clustered together in neighborhoods and distributed throughout the building. A primary, multi-story space is organized along the west side of the building and is formed by an open exhibition space with a communicating stair and interactive spaces. This public space acts as both an indoor Allee — exhibiting the students’ work to passersby — and the main mixing chamber for the faculty, students and visitors. It also creates a public transitional space, encouraging interaction with passersby between the adjacent parallel central campus Allee and the more enclosed studios and laboratories within the structure. The Allee, or Mall, is the campus’ main connective tissue.
A key project goal was to create an environment that encourages collaborative learning and creativity, and is flexible enough to evolve with the introduction of new technologies and methodologies. The vocabulary of the building looks to the future yet is cognizant of its context: facing the new Mall and located in the heart of the existing campus. The building is “outward facing”, encouraging public engagement and advertising its purpose and program. The design speaks to innovation but is also timeless in its appearance. The new ATEC building achieves all of these goals yet is very cost effective. VAI Architects was the Architect of Record.