Essay intelligent approach to growth that would result in a campus that fostered a greater sense of community while at the same time increasing density and improving the pedestrian experience. One of the most important moves of the master plan was to call for the construction of parking structures that pulled automobile traffic
As the university has grown, it has faced the opportunities and challenges that come with building on a campus defined by a historic core.
What Starts Here…
PHOTO BY TOM BONNER.
by Brantley Hightower, AIA
Even an Aggie would have to admit that The University of Texas at Austin has an impressive campus. The Spanish-Mediterranean buildings that define its core are stately to be sure, but so too are the landscaped malls and courtyards in between them. Framed by the red tile roofs that pop against the blue of the Texas sky, these outdoor rooms are as recognizably part of the campus as the buildings themselves. As the university has grown, it has faced the opportunities and challenges that come with building on a campus defined by a historic core. Some eras produced better buildings than others, but by the closing decade of the 20th century, it had become apparent that the campus needed a strategy of growth that would preserve its unique character. In response, UT Austin hired Cesar Pelli & Associates (now Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects) to create a comprehensive campus master plan. The goal was to identify an
to the edge of campus. In addition to reducing the number of cars on campus, this move allowed new structures to be built on what had been surface lots. The plan also included a detailed analysis of existing campus buildings and provided a set of architectural guidelines that broadly defined massing and characteristics that future buildings were to reflect. Despite a few notable lost opportunities where these guidelines were interpreted too literally, nearly two decades after its implementation, the Pelli plan has clearly led to a better campus. After the turn of the 21st century, architects were allowed greater freedom to push the envelope of the architectural language of the campus. The resulting buildings, three of which are profiled here, speak to the importance of a strong master plan that is intelligently implemented. Although all three buildings lie outside the “forty acres” that define the historic core of the UT Austin campus, they all owe a stylistic debt to those original structures while being of their own time. Belo Center for New Media
For years, the northwest corner of campus had been defined by the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center. Completed in 1972, the building’s design had been subjected to significant value engineering efforts, and the replacement of its original cladding made the structure a stylistic outlier. When the Lawrence Group was charged with providing additional facilities for the College of Communication, the architects faced several challenges, not the least of which was how to relate to the original building. Their solution was to create a series of interlocking building masses that referenced both the cast-in-place concrete of the original facility as well as the more recognizable brick masonry
Texas Architect 33