New arts and humanities building nearing completion
Just over a year-and-a-half after the groundbreaking, the new Texas A&M Arts and Humanities building is now much more than plans on paper.
Brown Reynolds Watford Architects and Skanska, the construction general contractor, predict that the building will be completed by early fall, and the departments that will be based there are expected to begin their move into the building in November.
The new Liberal Arts building will be the first on the Texas A&M campus designed specifically for instruction and scholarship in the arts and humanities. With a dozen practice rooms, a black box theatre, computer based teaching classrooms, recording studios, and office space, the future home of the Department of English and Department of Performance Studies is expected to enhance interdisciplinary scholarship and creative work on campus.
“When I came to A&M for my interview for this position, I was given a tour of what was then the very early stage of construction for the new building,” said Nancy Warren, head of the Department of English. “I was extremely impressed because the building represents the university's very material commitment to the liberal arts as central to the education it provides. That commitment is part of what persuaded me to come to A&M.
“As head of the English Department, I am really excited about the new classrooms, computer lab, and meeting spaces that will help us best do our part to provide important aspects of liberal arts education. The building is a beautiful place that provides an environment conducive to collaboration and community.”
The new brick and limestone building will also be home to the Initiative in Digital Humanities, Media and Culture, one of the university’s Academic Master Plan highlights. It will also house volumes of the poetry of John Donne, and serve as the World Shakespeare Bibliography headquarters.
"The new building offers a host of new opportunities for our students, including a state-of-the-art recording studio and black box theatre, as well as greatly expanded rehearsal space for both the music and theatre arts programs," said Harris Berger, head of the Department of Performance Studies.
The Arts and Humanities Building is being built with sustainability in mind and is designed to meet the Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) “Silver” rating. The carpets installed throughout the building will be nontoxic and made of materials that prevent off-gassing.
Additionally, a rainwater cistern will be located beneath the building to collect rainwater and air conditioning condensate for irrigation. The cistern will be able to hold 20,000 gallons of water, which will then be used to irrigate the green space around the building.
The outdoor courtyard will contain a performance area complete with electrical access where actors can run lines, musicians can perform, and students can gather. Inside the five-story building is roughly 120,000 square feet of usable space.
Because many spaces within the building will be used for performance, the architects placed particular emphasis on acoustics. The black box theater, for instance, is built on springs to prevent vibration and keep sound contained within the space. The architects also gave special consideration to the air conditioning and lighting systems so as to lessen ambient noise throughout the building.