The renewal of the existing late-70s Welch Hall at the University of Texas at Austin is underway with the construction of the high-performance teaching and research facilities for the College of Natural Sciences as well as significant general classroom and social space.
Located at a crossroads of the recently completed oak-lined Speedway mall, which sees 10,000 students moving through the main level on any given day, the new student concourse will form a destination and heart for the entire campus.
With a complete demolition of the 250,000 square-foot interior space, the project has seen a large amount of energy expended to prepare for the transformation, including a new mechanical penthouse and systems. The old containerized labs found along a double-loaded corridor on levels 3-5 were demolished, making way for open floor plate transparent labs for the future. Positioned at breaks in the brick-clad facade, full height curtainwall glazing opens up to expose “collaboration gaskets” for informal meetings.
The south facade fenestration is reorganized to optimize light for the newly configured labs and align views to the exterior. In the southeast corner, a large incision was created from floors 3-5 to allow full transparency and natural light deep into the write-up space where researchers will spend a significant amount of time.
At ground level, the heavily introverted building is being transformed into a connected student concourse adjacent to Speedway. The arcade has been completely opened for full transparency into the newly created concourse with floor-to-ceiling curtainwall glazing. The student concourse will be anchored at the south with a new cafe, while a variety of furniture running the length of the building will provide numerous spaces for relaxation, studying, informal meeting and events. Together with Landmarks, the university’s public art program, a large video installation will be located in the concourse enriching the space while presenting accessible art to the greater public.
As work continues for the Fall 2020 opening, we are looking forward to students and faculty filling the building and bringing life and energy into the newly created Welch Hall.
Groundbreaking at UT Austin Welch Hall
Project Perspective: Welch Hall Renovation