The University of Texas at Dallas Visitor Center and University Bookstore
The 33,000-square-foot Visitor Center and University Bookstore works closely with recently completed landscape improvements to create a new gateway and orientation point for the UT Dallas campus. The building’s iconic rotunda echoes a nearby large circular mound that is the landmark for the campus entry. The rotunda is an open, unconditioned space for informal gathering and acts as a welcoming gesture both for the campus and the building. The rotunda’s stack ventilation—controlled by curved glass containment, its concentric rings of sunshades constructed of structural steel and its huge fan—will help keep it temperate in the hot Texas climate. Finely detailed steel tension members keep it light and delicate like the best of traditional Texas porches.
Crisp, clean lines and strong geometries throughout the building give it a strong presence. White steel structural members and sunshades contrast sharply with dark grey modular panels made of cement fiberboard. A very distinctive, mottled, dark grey Texas Limestone cut to emphasize strong horizontal bands works with the strong Texas sun to create anchor piers at prominent corners.
Functions accommodated in the building include retail enterprises such as the bookstore, tech store, cafe and copy shop as well as an ample recreation/multipurpose room dedicated to student activities. A large visitor's center serves as the primary greeting and orientation point for prospective students, families and others coming to the campus from outside the university community.
Because the building sits in a position on the campus where many people pass through on their way from parking to the main mall, a long concourse with generous clerestory light has been created to celebrate that movement. Entries to all major functions open off the concourse and are marked by strong color that contrasts with the black/white/grey palette of the rest of the building. Steel struts act as structural bracing, dancing irregularly across the tall space and emphasizing its role as a place for circulation. Large scale campus events will be held in the open indoor/outdoor room that flanks the north side of the concourse.
Both in terms of its functions and its key location the new Visitor Center and University Bookstore plays a transformative role on the UT Dallas campus. It creates a fresh new image for the campus in concert with the recently completed landscape plan, and it provides much needed spaces for enhanced student life.
“An Ordered Approach.” Texas Architect, January-February, 2012
“2012 Design Award – Interiors,” Metal Architecture, July 2012
Page project team members include: