Project: the EERC at the University of Texas, by Ennead Architects

A multidisciplinary University facility has been transformed into a collorative, inspiring new hub for engineering, thanks to Ennead Architects.

The Engineering Education and Research Centre (EERC) is a multidisciplinary facility that has been designed by Ennead Architects and Jacobs Engineering Group. A centralised, collaborative and inspiring new hub for engineering innovation, the EERC is situated on the University of Texas Austin campus, easily maintaining the global reputation and ambition of the university's Cockrell School of Engineering.

Centred around the idea of ‘Transparency and Unification’, the building’s design defines a new paradigm for engineering education and research through the integration of undergraduate project-based learning, interdisciplinary graduate research, and a Centre for Innovation focused on entrepreneurship.

Image: Aislinn Weidele

Providing 432,000 square foot of innovative interdisciplinary teaching and research space, the EERC is made up of two nine-storey towers; these are linked by a three-storey day lit atrium at ground level, and also above by bridges that are filled with collaborative work space. A primary goal of the project was to inspire the next generation of engineers by giving visitors to the EERC a sense that important work takes place within the space.

Ennead Architects have put the engineering work that takes place in the EERC firmly on display throughout the building, with glass surfaces offering transparency and exposing the work of the school. All visitors, as well as University staff and students, are now able to peer into the labs, classrooms and workspaces.

The ‘beating heart’ of the EERC project is the new atrium that connects the towers; a vibrant hub of activity and energy, the atrium is packed full of collaboration, study and learning spaces. A folded glass and steel roof was installed, offering dramatic views of the towers above and the Texas sky beyond. The atrium perimeter is also includes the 23,000 square foot Student Project Centre, which the design team hopes will transform the way the School teaches its undergraduates.

Above the atrium, the state-of-the-art research facility includes five floors of interdisciplinary and departmental research labs. Linked by the bridges, the labs are supported by faculty offices and open work areas for graduate researchers; thanks to the glass surfaces, students can stand in the north tower’s labs and look out over the entire building, through to the labs in the south tower.

“We believe that transparency builds community and makes people happier and more productive,” explain the Ennead Architects team when discussing the use of glass surfaces throughout the EERC. Using these materials within the towers and atriums has also allowed natural light to fill every space, “emphasizing the interconnectedness of [the] previously siloed communities”.

Project Name: Cockrell School of Engineering Education and Research Centre
Architects: Ennead Architects with Jacobs Engineering Group
Location: Austin, Texas (USA)
Completed Year: 2017
Photo Credits: Jeff Goldberg (unless otherwise stated)

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