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2012 Design Awards UT Austin Visual Arts Center by Thomas Hayne Upchurch, AIA Project Visual Arts Center, Austin Client University of Texas at Austin Architect Lake|Flato Architects Design team David Lake, FAIA; Bill Aylor, AIA; Lewis McNeel, AIA; Brandon Anderson, AIA; Sam Vonderau Contractor Flynn Construction Consultants Architectural Engineers Collaborative (structural); Jose I Guerra (MEP); Civil Engineering Consultants (civil); Ten Eyck Landscape Architects (landscape); Brown Design Consultants (lighting); Accessibility Unlimited (accessibility); Busby+Associates (cost); Facility Programming (programming); Fire Protection Engineering (fire protection); Fugro Consultants (geotechnical); Intro Spec (specifications); Schirmer Engineering (code) Photographer Frank Ooms I n the past there has been a sense of aloofness characterizing the Art Building on the UT Austin campus. Located on the northeast corner of San Jacinto and 23rd Street, across from Royal–Memorial Stadium, the two-story building has stood at a distance from the public. Although its main entry on the west side was connected to street level by a prominent exterior stair, the building’s solid volumes revealed little about its interior activities. Yet the south elevation of this mid-century modern building expressed a slight undulation in the soft orange brick veneer, rising to a cap of contrasting white concrete barrel vaults. These details created a bit of visual interest and a hint of greater possibilities within. Residing within the existing Art Building, the Visual Arts Center (VAC) — replacing the former Blanton Art Museum — is a newly renovated interior space created by Lake|Flato Architects. The renovation consists of 30,000 square feet for exhibition galleries, student workshop areas, and administration. These new spaces reflect a new personality as a place where students, faculty, and professional artists interact and collaborate to explore the visual arts. The Center also enhances connection to the world beyond the building through traveling exhibitions and openness to the surrounding campus. Lake|Flato Architects clearly saw the opportunities to embrace the school’s program through a restrained architectural solution. Project Architect Bill Aylor, AIA, noted the design for the renovations was really about exposing great space already in place. Indeed, primary achievements were simple but significant. The concrete barrel vaults visible from the exterior were exposed to view from the interior gallery spaces. The interior courtyard, previously surrounded by storage rooms and offices, was opened on three sides to circulation and gallery space, providing natural light and orientation at the building’s core. Finally, a new entrance was developed on the 58 Texas Architect 9/10 2012

Texas Architect Sept/Oct 2012: Design Awards

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