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Faculty Building Advisory Committee

The Faculty Building Advisory Committee (FBAC) provided input on several projects this year, including the Belo Communications building, the Dell Computer Science Hall, and the Liberal Arts Phase II building.

The Belo Communications building was designed by the Lawrence Group. In consultation with FBAC Steering Committee and full FBAC, the design went through many rounds of changes aimed at making it more responsive to the architectural norms of The University of Texas campus.

The Dell Computer Science Hall, designed by Cesar Pelli & Associates had been in schematic design for several years but the final plans for the building received enthusiastic approval by the FBAC.

The Liberal Arts Phase II building also finished going through schematic design and was provisionally accepted by the Board of Regents in May 2010. The FBAC steering committee, the ad hoc building committee chaired by then-Associate Dean Dan Slesnick (and now by Associate Dean Esther Raisen), and the full FBAC also worked with the design team from Overland Partners to help them arrive at a design for a large building that will, with the Student Activity Center, complete the East Mall part of the central campus. It is a large building at over 200,000 square feet, but it is designed not to have a dominating presence on the East Mall.

We reiterate three important ideas promoted this year (and in many previous years) by the FBAC:
  • The FBAC urges the administration to undertake a new Campus Master Plan. The plan developed by Cesar Pelli and Associates in 1995 has now either been fully implemented or rendered irrelevant by other campus developments. While some of the general principles of that plan still apply, we need a new plan that is a more technical assessment of campus infrastructure (power, data, chilled water, sewers, storm drains). We also need to assess the existing inventory of buildings to consider if replacement is a viable option in any cases. We urge that this process include an assessment of the historic significance of buildings, and of historically significant interiors.
  • The FBAC continues to be very focused on increasing our inventory of general purpose classrooms and has struggled to make sure that projects include >15 percent classrooms. In the intense negotiations involved in building buildings classroom space is the most vulnerable because the units involved in the buildings are generally inclined to prioritize offices and research space ahead of classrooms.
  • The FBAC also remains focused on buildings that are sustainable and efficient, but beyond seeking LEED Silver or better ratings for all new construction, our aim is to build buildings that cost less to run over the long term. At present, the academic units involved in building projects have a powerful incentive to keep costs down, but little incentive to invest in things that would have significant impact on the cost of operating the building for its life-cycle (since campus pays the operating costs, not the units themselves).
These issues– a new master plan, classroom space, and life-cycle building efficiency – will be high priorities for 2010-11.

Samuel M. Wilson, chair