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W

p r o j e c t University c l i e n t  University a r c h i t e c t  Kell

of Texas Pan American College of Education

of Texas System

Muñoz Architects

d e s i g n t e a m John

H. Kell, FAIA; Henry R. Munoz III; James G.

Sterner, AIA; Steven Land Tillotson, AIA; Claudia Carlos; Michael Cowan, AIA c o n t r a c t o r Skanska

USA Building

c o n s u l t a n t s HMG & Associates (MEP); Lundy & Franke Engineering

(structural); Perez Consulting Engineers (civil); Datacom Design Group (IT); BAI (AV); Halff Associates (landscape); Busby & Associates (cost estimating) p h o t o g r a p h e r Chris

58

t e x a s

Cooper Photography

a r c h i t e c t

hat’s in a phrase? You might ask yourself that question as you stand in front of the main elevator in the newest addition to the Education Complex on the main campus of the University of Texas Pan-American with its myriad of sayings (or dichos) etched into the surrounding clear glass walls. Waiting to step into this mechanical contraption that will not only take you to your destination, but beyond that, will take you on a journey through the delicate intricacies of language and culture—the culture of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, most certainly, but inwardly, the culture of the University of Texas Pan-American, and the culture of UT Pan-Am’s student body with all its complex yet defining ethnic characteristics. Welcome to the latest expression of biculturalism and bilinguilism from the minds of Kell Muñoz Architects. Centrally located on the UT Pan-Am campus in Edinburg, the newly constructed addition consists of two new facilities (Buildings C & D) located immediately to the east and adjacent to the existing and newly refurbished Buildings A & B. The $22 million (total project cost), 82,000-sq.ft. addition includes much needed classrooms, research areas, labs, and faculty offices. For a university that trains more bilingual teachers than any other institution in the U.S., the facility is a godsend; for the architects at Kell Muñoz, it was an opportunity to expand on their philosophies regarding culture and language, specifically the interaction between Mexican and Anglo traditions, customs, and social mores. These interactions form the core behind the idea of “code switching”—the sharing of cultural characteristics that often result when two societies interact; in this case, the coalescence of Spanish and English. As UT Pan-Am’s architect and owner’s representative for this project, I was involved, along with the university’s design committee, in a wide variety of stimulating conceptual discussions with Kell Muñoz’ design team, each time internalizing more and more of the conceptual thinking that would ultimately shape this structure. It was during these conversations and through the general review of the design process that we began to understand and ultimately embrace the concepts of biculturalism, bilinguilism, and “code switching.” Along with these defining ideals, very real issues such as internal lighting, pedestrian traffic patterns, and existing infrastructure played important roles in helping to establish the building footprint. Building at UT Pan-Am poses a particular challenge to all designers because the university requires all buildings to use a standard brick color (“UT Pan-Am blend”), as well as one of only two

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Texas Architect Jan/Feb 2008: Design for Education  

Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other...

Texas Architect Jan/Feb 2008: Design for Education  

Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other...