As part of a comprehensive master plan for the College of Engineering, Ballinger proposed demolishing five obsolete buildings that were obstacles to the College’s growth, and creating a new interdisciplinary hub to attract the best faculty, students and industry partners.
Ballinger conceived the new building as a bridge between the science and humanities precincts of the campus. The siting responds to adjacent existing buildings and threads two parts of the campus together.
The key design feature of the five-story building is a truss support system, which eliminates the need for interior support columns and allows for uninterrupted open interiors. Ballinger’s structural engineers and architects collaborated on the design of the truss, which is visible from the exterior.
Lower floors are focused on active learning labs, classrooms and capstone studios, all organized around a central ground-floor commons to stimulate interaction. The commons faces the campus quad, drawing students and faculty into a hub of discovery. Outside is an elevated outdoor working plaza equipped with a strong floor. A 70-seat active learning space hosts classes from engineering and other disciplines, furthering the interdisciplinary mission of the building.
The upper floors are dedicated to research and are designed as reconfigurable open lofts. Offices are located away from research spaces to discourage ownership and promote collaboration between disciplines.
The building is the largest construction project in the University’s history and will open the door to immense opportunities for the College of Engineering.