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University Hall of Residence – Austin, TX

Architects: Alejandro Aravena in collaboration with Ricardo Torrejon, Cotera + Reed Architects.

Structural Engineers: Datum Engineers

Structure: The primary structure is composed of reinforced concrete along with steel beams on the top floor.

Roof Assembly: The exterior roofing consists of sheet-steel seam roofing followed by several layers of polythene, glass fiber, and polystyrene for insulation.  Trapezoidal steel-sheet metal provides decking for the roof.  The entire assembly along with any additional roof live loads are carried by a system of steel joists connected to wide-flange steel beams. The ceiling finish is attached to a series of steel omega-sections connecting directly to the joist systems.

Wall Assembly:

The curtain wall containing glass windows is supported by the structural frame through a series of angles connecting to the stem of the wide flange steel beams  (top floor) and directly to the concrete columns (other floors).  Aluminum panels span between the beams and the window.

The brick curtain wall is held up by angles attached to the structure.  Insulation and empty space is provided between the inside of the structure and the outside.  Some of the structure contains brickwork in stretcher bonds for aesthetic purposes.

Special Detail: Brickwork

The bricks were hand made fired and cooled for eight days each in Reynosa, Mexico.  This form work provides an aesthetic appeal resembling that of a monastery.  The architect intended to provide this monastic tone to the structure in order to emphasize the similarities in uses of the housing unit to that of a monastery: sleeping, studying, and dining.  Certain portions of the brick work are patterned in a stretcher bond to provide an archaic and rough appearance.


source: “University Hall of Residence in Austin” from Detail Magazine ed. 2009 issue 6. pages 584-589.

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Written by Guy Bergel

January 26, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized