Take a walk through the new College of Liberal Arts Building, and the building feels as fresh and modern as it feels warm and lived-in—an impressive feat for a place that just opened in January. Prominently located near the East Mall Fountain, the building is an impressive example of sustainable architecture and innovative fundraising. The work that takes place within its walls will impact not only the college, but also the university and society for generations to come. However, there was a time when the building’s completion seemed next to impossible.
Students, faculty and visitors will soon cross this sky bridge from the Student Activity Center to the new Liberal Arts Building, where workers are putting finishing touches on labs, classrooms and other gathering spaces that maximize student/faculty collaboration while minimizing environmental impacts. Located on the East Mall near San Jacinto Street, the building is designed to meet LEED gold standards for sustainability.
The University of Texas at Austin is known for its landmark buildings — The Tower, The Texas Union, Battle Hall. Soon to join these campus icons: the new College of Liberal Arts building, nearing completion on the East Mall.Not only is the building the newest landmark for the campus, it is also a landmark for innovative funding and cost-effective planning and design.
“This is the first time a college has funded its own building,” says Kathleen Aronson, the college’s assistant dean for development, who notes that the project marks a number of “firsts” for the college and university. “We are the first college to take out a loan for a building and to identify college funds to finance the loan. It is a model for other colleges to follow.”
It is not unlike a homeowner taking out a 30-year mortgage, says Jamie Southerland, the college’s assistant dean for business affairs, who adds that the college could not afford to wait for state funding that is allocated to the university’s list of capital improvement projects.
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