Education Featured Groundbreaking

Sam Houston Univ. Breaks Ground on Arts Complex

Exterior rendering Sam Houston State University Arts Complex / GUND Partnership

Houston, TX – A groundbreaking ceremony was recently held at Sam Houston State University for the new Arts Complex, designed by GUND Partnership, an architecture and planning firm headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and led by Principal David Zenk with Dan Rutledge, Yoo Jin Chung and Lance Smith.

GUND teamed with Kirksey Architecture of Houston, and the project consultants included Martinez Moore, civil engineer; Kudela & Weinheimer, landscape architect; Ensight/Cardno Haynes Whaley, structural engineer; Collaborative Engineering Group, MEP engineer; and Datacom Design Group, telecommunication.

A new model for visual arts buildings, it brings together arts programs from eight buildings across campus into a new center where students can pursue traditional arts studies and explore new digital arts programs under one roof. The entry level of the complex invites the larger community in with a dramatic two-story gallery to exhibit work and flexible event space for artists’ talks and lectures.

The new, 70,325sf, four-story building includes classrooms, labs, studios, faculty offices, indoor and outdoor galleries, working courtyards for ceramics, sculpture, and WASH studios, and a student commons.

Sustainability is a key factor in the design. The new complex features state-of-the-art mechanical systems to handle the specialized ventilation needs of arts processes to support a healthy and safe environment. The team utilized energy and daylight modeling to evaluate the orientation of the building to maximize comfort and quality of light. Shaded and covered outdoor areas extend working areas and leverage natural ventilation.

The contemporary architecture expresses the materiality of the building through the exposed structural elements and polished concrete floor. The building enhances the campus with a bold mix of brick, terracotta, metal panels, and large glass curtainwalls to bring prized north light into the studios and the main gallery while giving passersby a glimpse into the creativity beyond the studio walls.

Interiors feature durable materials that can withstand student experimentation while double-height spaces offer students space for creating and displaying larger works of art. The Arts Complex is expected to be complete in fall 2019.

The school’s signature WASH program (Workshop in Art Studio and History) moves into the building from its previous off-campus space. This highly successful introduction to the arts gives SHSU students a broad exposure to all aspects of the programs offered, with classroom and hands on learning experiences.

The new building celebrates the University’s recent accreditation with the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and emphasizes arts immersion and experiential learning. Combining the arts disciplines in one facility allows for cross-fertilization of ideas, collaborations between artists and exposure to new techniques, especially pertinent to WASH students who are experiencing the arts offerings at Sam Houston for the first time.