UTD doesn?t need ivy on the walls of its buildings if they can be covered in LEDs, light emitting diodes that could stream flashes of genius or just announce the next home volleyball game.
The forward-thinking, envelope-pushing creativity and innovation that is the hallmark of UTD could be extended to its architecture ? yielding a campus that no one could call ?boring? or ?ugly? any more.
Thirteen students from The University of Texas at Austin submitted architectural plans as part of UTD?s Building Visions competition.
Their mission: to design a new building to house the School of Arts and Humanities.
Their cause: to give UTD an architectural identity.
And Margaret McDermott Distinguished Professor of Art and Aesthetics Dr. Rick Brettell gave them two months to do it.
The project, Dr. Brettell?s brainchild, was an exercise in creativity and meant to inspire rather than constrain.
?I wanted to give these students the chance to design something with intellectual capital,? Dr. Brettell said. ?They were instructed to innovate and create something that could give UTD a visual symbol ? a beacon.?
Dr. Brettell provided the Schools of Architecture at both UT-Austin and UT-Arlington with details for the competition, which specified a proposed location for the new building and a list of the conference rooms, offices, classrooms and various other spaces that would need to be included for the building to function as the home of Arts and Humanities.
?I didn?t want to hamper their creativity too much; some of the plans deviate from the required elements, and that is fine. I was much more interested in a way to transform UTD?s image,? he said.
The proposals included a monumental tower, buildings reminiscent of grain silos, outer elevations that would fit in well with the current Engineering and Management buildings ? but with interior twists, and a three-story corridor through campus, covered in LEDs so messages could be flashed inside or outside, and on one section near a large plot of grass, movies could be played on the side of the building.
Of the twelve submissions, none was proposed at the site suggested, right next to the Science and Engineering building currently under construction.
?The students from Austin come from one of the great planned campuses in the Nation, and they saw this building as a way to unify the campus rather than spreading it out even more,? Dr. Brettell said. ?(UTD) is very much a commuter campus, and that mentality pervades students, professors, and the architecture alike.?
Alternate sites ran the gamut from the present-day site of the Student Union to the back of the Green Common building, to Dr. Brettell?s favorite: straight through the main axis of campus.
Dr. Brettell is delighted with the students? concept of a ?linkage building? for UTD. And since the project was meant to foster cooperation and collaboration between the UT-System schools in addition to giving UTD a landmark of sorts, Dr. Brettell couldn?t be more pleased with the high level of quality participation.
?The UT System has no consciousness of itself,? Dr. Brettell said. ?Campuses compete for money when we should be an interconnected resource.?
UT-Austin architecture major Miguel Bao, who participated in the competition, felt it was a golden chance to create.
?It was a great opportunity for us to put into practice all the theoretical input that has been given to us at the University so far,? Mr. Bao said.
?I feel that this competition was definitely a turning point in my education as it really helped mature my perspective on the design process,? he continued.
But student participation at UT-Austin is not the only goal of the competition. The various designs have been exhibited in the Art Barn for the past couple of months and will be moved to the Green Commons building for student viewing.
A prize will be awarded to the architect of the design picked by UTD students, who are encouraged to vote at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These computer generated images were created by UT students who are working in conjunction with Dr. Brettel?s project, UTD?s Building Visions competition, to design a new, revolutionary, and distinctive architectural identity for the school. Top and Bottom: An inside look and a frontal of the new building.