Tuesday, August 17, 2010 , Updated 12:00 a.m., August 26, 2010
New building on UNT Dallas Campus will welcome class of 2014
The 2nd General Academic Building is another step toward UNT Dallas becoming one of Dallas' next great institution.
For years driving along Interstate 20 between Houston School and Lancaster Roads, the only visible landmark between there and downtown was the V.A. Hospital. Then the University of North Texas at Dallas moved from a warehouse district in Southern Dallas County to a new building at Houston School and Camp Wisdom, giving everyone a glimpse of the possibilities.
Next week UNT-Dallas will double the size of their campus the with the creatively-named 2nd General Academic Building. The New U will welcome their first freshman and sophomore classes as they really (really) become the city’s first public institution of higher learning.
Last week I donned a hard hat and vest and got my first glimpse of the new building. Dr. Gregory Tomlin (executive director of marketing and communications) and David Porter (associate director of marketing, news & information) were kind enough to give me a sneak peak of the GAB 2 (my acronym, not theirs).
On a day that approached 105 degrees outside, UNT Dallas students will be glad to know that the air conditioning was in full working order. The first thing we saw was a dining area that will operate throughout each day and into the evening. There’s a coffee bar and flat screen TVs just outside the serving line that in my mind (and I think creatively) plays out somewhere between Starbucks and Ten Sports Grill.
An agreement has already been signed with a food services company. For an area so desperate for food options, Dr. Tomlin says the surrounding community would be welcome to utilize the facility for their dining needs.
After moving along from every students favorite subject of lunch, it was time for class. Tomlin and Porter took me inside what will be the largest classroom on campus, seating up to 135 students. They showed off some of the environmentally friendly aspects of this particular room, which typifies many of the green attributes architects instituted in the building.
Desktops inside the classroom are made of recycled wood veneer, and Terfazzo floors outside include recycled glass. UNT-Dallas hopes the building will receive Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Certification after it is completed. Other sustainable aspects of the building include:
* The U-shaped building has a three story west wing and two story east wing. In the morning, the three story portion will receive maximum sunlight from the rising sun and shade the two story side of building as the sun sets in the west.
* 480 solar panels sit atop the north roof. They will collect an average of 500 kWh of energy per day.
* Windows are treated to reduce the amount of sunlight that enters the building.
* The three rooves are slanted so that rainwater may be collected and carried to a 60,000 gallon cistern in the courtyard between the two buildings. The water will be used to irrigate the campus.
* 60-70 trees are being planted around the courtyard area and a garden roof tops the east wing which will feature Buffalo Prairie Grass.
But the theme of the new General Academic Building is space: More space for students, more space for staff, more space for faculty. The three librarians on staff will manage an expanded virtual library and there will be two additional computer labs along with more group study space.
UNT Dallas’ 64 full time faculty members (which includes three deans and the provost) will have much more amenable accommodations. New faculty offices surround the outer portion of the new building and windows are embedded with UV filter technology to reduce heat.
Parenthetically, the person with the best view on campus (and maybe in all of Southern Dallas) is former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle. During his retirement reception in April, Kunkle announced his new role as “executive in residence” with the W.W. Caruth Jr. Police Institute. CPI has office space in the new building where they will focus on leadership development needs of the Dallas Police Department.
The new building will be open to the public next Thursday, August 26 beginning at 7:30 a.m. when UNT Dallas will host a First Day of Class Celebration. A Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will take place at 8 a.m. at 7300 Houston School Rd. in Dallas. Jaguar Welcome Week will also run from August 26-September 2. I’d encourage everyone to come out to celebrate this beautiful building at one of Dallas’ next great institution.
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