Building for the best and brightest
Higher education has been booming across the state in recent years. Will troubled markets hurt this thriving sector? Or will it remain one of the bright spots for Texas? Highlighted here are some projects that illustrate ‘smart’ trends keeping Texas’ university systems building.
Though the price tag for higher education is rising rapidly, the state of Texas is expanding its public and private colleges and universities with everything from medical research laboratories, nursing school facilities, classrooms, residence halls, dining rooms and office space.
Within four major university systems, multimillion dollar building projects are under way, and several are seeking LEED certification.
|At UT-Austin, the AT&T Education and Conference Center is nearly complete. The facility, with restaurants and full-service hotel, serves as a gateway between the campus and city. (Photo by Eileen Schwartz.)
At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s North Research campus in Dallas, Kirby Vahle, vice president for facilities, says an ambitious, multiphased project will ultimately include both in- and outpatient clinics, education spaces and the creation of labs for more biomedical research. He says construction will be tied to funding availability and school semester cycles. The ambitious UTSWMC expansion is a three-fold mission, which will ultimately include both in and outpatient clinics, education spaces, and the creation of labs for more biomedical research. “The campus boasts four nobel laureates on its staff,” he adds.
A 12-story, 475,000-sq-ft, $156-million biomedical research building is part of the UTSWMC project. The first phase will include finishing out six of 12 floors for research labs and an imaging center.
Vahle says the continuing growth program will ultimately result in a 10.2-million-sq-ft facility being constructed by Austin Commercial of Dallas. The first phase is scheduled for completion in 2010.
Mark Dilworth, AIA, principal-in-charge and design director for Omniplan of Dallas the design team leading the UTSWMC expansion, says the bioresearch building will be the first of its kind in Dallas to seek silver LEED certification.
“Research laboratories are highly energy consumptive, so it’s important that we follow stricter energy guidelines” Dilworth says. “But laboratories are more difficult and challenging. That’s why LEED is so great – it allows for diversity when planning, depending on what your building needs are.”
For example, all of the irrigation on the site will be done with nonpotable water. A 140,000-gallon rainwater collection system will be used, and the huge amounts of condensate from air-conditioning systems will be recycled.
Additionally, the modular design of the building and its systems will allow for easy conversion from classroom or office space into laboratory space as the biomedical research needs of the campus grow.
Vahle says a 117,000-sq-ft biotechnology development complex is also included in phase one. Gilbane Building Co., based in Providence, R.I. is building the $30-million complex, slated for completion in the summer and also seeking LEED certification.
In phase two, Vahle says UTSWMC will add a 1.3-million-sq-ft clinical campus that will include a 224-bed, full-service hospital to replace an outdated building. Three more hospital towers are in the plans, with a hopeful completion of all phases by 2013.
The builder for the hospital extension has not been chosen, but the bidding process will begin soon.
|A rendering of the $36-million nursing school facility, the second academic building at Texas State University's Round Rock Higher Education Center. (Rendering courtesy of TSU.)
Another Omniplan-designed higher education venture includes the near-completion of a schematic design on a new School of Business at Texas A&M in Corpus Christi. The O’Connor Business Building will seek LEED silver certification.
Leading construction on the $25-million, 76,000-sq-ft building is Satterfield & Pontikes Construction Inc. of Houston. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer, and a completion date has not been set.
At the University of Texas at Austin, a new AT&T Education and Conference Center is nearly finished. It includes a pool and deck under construction and a fully equipped gym.
The project is being built to silver LEED standards and is another Austin Commercial build, with HKS of Dallas and Lake/Flato of San Antonio heading the design team.
“The primary challenge associated with LEED certification at any level is helping others understand its true cost, says Will Shepard, AIA, senior project manager for the UT building. “Many costs often attributed to the LEED standards are, in reality, investments in future operating cost reductions. When these invested capital costs are separated out, the true cost of LEED certification is much lower and financial objections disappear.”
The total square footage for the conference center is 535,000, and the budget is $133 million, according to the UT Board of Regents. The facility has two restaurants and is a full-service hotel, as well.
At UT in El Paso, the groundbreaking for a new $60 million College of Health Sciences and School of Nursing building was recently held. Designed by PageSoutherlandPage of Houston, the 130,000-sq-ft building will house classrooms, laboratories and clinics. It’s slated for completion in the spring of 2011.
|A rendering of a new dining and residence hall at St. Edward’s University in Austin, designed by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena and being built by Flintco Construction.
Vaughn Construction of Houston is the contractor for the project, which will continue with the Bhutanese design of the campus. John Clegg, vice president of design at PSP says that “as design professionals, we are trying to work within the vocabulary of the Bhutanese form, while expanding and innovating the model, as well.”
The campus was originally designed in the unusual style when the university president’s wife fell in love with the look in 1914 after seeing a photographic pictorial on the nation of Bhutan in an issue of the National Geographic. The unique design has garnered national attention, and the campus has remained true to that original concept throughout the years.
At St. Edward’s University in Austin, as part of a 10-year renovation and expansion program, a new 119,000-sq-ft residence and dining hall complex is scheduled to open its doors for students this spring to accommodate a 97% enrollment increase over the past decade.
University President George Martin says that St. Edward’s is committed “to attracting architects from around the world who can design noteworthy and inspiring structures that add to the sense of place on our campus.”
The $27 million complex was designed by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena and constructed by Flintco Inc. with portions of the finish-out work by Flynn Construction. Both firms are based in Austin. The complex will offer a variety of suites with designer touches, as well as a dining hall, combined health and counseling center and more. There also will be retail spaces.
|A rendering of the new $60 million College of Health Sciences and School of Nursing at the University of Texas at El Paso. The building’s design follows the university’s Bhutanese-influenced tradition.
To create a ‘downtown living experience’ for students, a retail and residence space will be located together, in the heart of the campus, serving as a kind of “town square” to unite the university’s apartments and featuring courtyards with outdoor spaces and a pedestrian street for students, faculty and staff members to gather. Mike Peterson, director of physical plant, says “the buildings are expected to well exceed the energy code set by the state of Texas. The use of insulated glass and daylighting techniques were closely considered in the design of window placement and arrangement, and the placement of the buildings on the site will create a walkable environment, therefore reducing the need for students to use cars.”
Texas State University in San Marcos has just completed a $32-million student recreation center expansion and renovation designed by Marmon Mok of San Antonio and built by Bartlett Cocke, also of San Antonio. Under way is a $36-million nursing school facility, the second academic building at TSU’s Round Rock Higher Education Center.
The four-floor, 79,533-sq-ft nursing building was designed by Barnes, Gromatzky, Kosarek Architects of Austin and Richter Cornbrooks, Gribble of Baltimore, Md.
Flintco Inc. is the contractor on the project.
To facilitate a goal of opening by fall 2010, construction will be undertaken in two stages with two GMP packages.