PageSoutherlandPage led the design of the $7.5-million University of Texas at Dallas Visitor Center and University Bookstore, completed in July 2011.

The building was designed to be an open and flexible space for events and a new front door to the campus. Project team members completed the ground-up 33,000-sq-ft building in less than seven months and under budget.

Exterior features include steel, high-performance glass, fiber-cement panels and metal panels.

Particularly challenging elements on this project—the solutions for which will serve as benchmarks for future projects—were 6-ft structural steel sunshades and a steel tensegrity structure in the rotunda.

"Although using structural steel to create a sunshade canopy is not especially unique, using an aluminum curtain wall system to support the structural steel is," says Christopher Lang, senior project manager at Turner Construction Co. "Typically, aluminum curtain wall systems support aluminum sunshades, as the weight of a steel canopy is too much for the curtain wall to support. The client and design team needed to extend the sunshade structure beyond the edge of the building to a point further than an aluminum sunshade could self-support. We designed a sleek canopy connection detail that was sculpted from solid blocks of aluminum."

One of the architectural highlights of the project is the steel and glass rotunda at the main entrance, which is complemented by a steel cable structure used to float a 20-ft-dia fan between the rotunda ceiling and floor.

"We built a temporary tower in the center of the rotunda to temporarily support a portion of the cabled structure. Once the surrounding rotunda was complete, the design team, Turner and steel erector Irwin Steel partnered to install and methodically tension the custom Swiss-made stainless steel cables," Lang says. "Because the cables had a 14-week lead time, the engineered drawings and tensioning procedure had to be established early in the project without any room for future modifications."

Key Players

Owner: University of Texas Board of Regents, Richardson, Texas

General Contractor: Turner Construction Co., Dallas

Lead Design: PageSoutherlandPage, Dallas

Civil: Charles Gojer & Associates Inc., Dallas

Structural: Datum-Gojer, Dallas

MEP: PageSoutherlandPage, Dallas

Submitted by PageSoutherlandPage