With a touch of fanfare and many well-wishers in attendance, the Austin College IDEA Center was officially dedicated November 8. Though open for classes all fall, the building’s formal opening ceremony included donors, building partners, friends, Board of Trustee members, students, faculty, staff, and senior administrators, with many guests seeing the facility for the first time.
“The beautiful building behind me—and the living laboratory all around its exterior—gives us great reason to celebrate today,” said Austin College President Marjorie Hass. “As the largest capital project in the history of the College, this IDEA Center truly required tremendous efforts—perhaps some blood, sweat, and tears as well—from the entire Austin College community and our many good friends. I am pleased that so many of you are able to join us in the dedication of this facility. … Thank you, trustees, and each friend here, who played a role in seeing this “idea” become a reality.”
In addition to several comments from President Hass, the program included the presentation of the building to the campus community by Todd Williams of Dallas, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees and a 1982 graduate of Austin College, as well as response from Steve Goldsmith, the College’s dean of sciences, and senior Courtney Goldstein, who spoke on behalf of students.
Courtney’s comments of her delight at the modern labs and classrooms available for students brought more comments from President Hass. “In you, we see the real reason that this building is important; for in you and your fellow students we see our future, knowing that you will leave here with knowledge gained, lessons learned, and ‘ideas’ in progress to make a difference in your world,” Dr. Hass said. “That story—told again and again through the lives of hundreds of students—is the true thanks for all who have labored in seeing this building constructed.”
Other members of the platform party included President Emeritus Oscar Page, past board chair Robert Johnson ’53, vice president emeritus Mike Imhoff, professor emeritus and former dean of sciences Larry Robinson, Dr. Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres, who joined the College leadership in July as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, and John Ed Withers, senior trustee and a 1965 graduate, who provided the invocation. All took part in a ribbon cutting to formally open the building and welcome donors and guests inside the new facility.
Members of the College’s A Cappella Choir, led by interim director Justin Duncan, performed during the event.
About The IDEA Center
A Resource for Inquiry, Discovery, Entrepreneurship, and Access
Begun in June 2011, the IDEA Center opened for classes in Fall Term 2013.
The multi-disciplinary building of approximately 103,000 square feet includes contemporary classrooms and multi-purpose laboratories that support today’s hands-on, experiential science curricula. Offering considerably more space than the previous campus science facility, the IDEA Center expands opportunities for faculty-student research and facilitates access to research and information. The building features 32 laboratory classrooms, 40 offices, 16 lecture rooms, a 108-seat auditorium, and a domed observatory housing a 24-inch telescope with an astronomical high-resolution image camera. Native landscaping and a decorative pond offer environmental education opportunities as well as aesthetic features. The center houses the departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, mathematics, and physics.
With the aim of achieving Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design) certification, the design of the IDEA Center incorporates high performance green building standards including construction materials that support efficient energy consumption, ecologically friendly construction techniques, solar shading and natural light, and rooftop rainwater collection for irrigation of native landscaping.
The building design itself exhibits science at work by taking advantage of solar shading and natural light, incorporating efficient mechanical systems, and landscaping with native vegetation. Features of the new complex reduce the building’s energy consumption and establish a new campus standard for the design, construction, and operation of environmentally friendly buildings.
One highlight of the facility is the Adams Observatory, equipped with a 24-inch, state-of-the-art telescope to provide students and faculty a window to the universe. College officials expect the observatory to allow further outreach to the larger community and school children across North Texas once the equipment is calibrated and fully tested.
General Contractor: Hunt Construction Company, Dallas, Texas
Architect of Record: Page Southerland Page, Dallas, Texas
Preliminary Design: Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott, Boston, Massachusetts
Project Management Consultants: Pritchard Associates, Dallas, Texas