10 months ago
Nyemike Okonkwo
Mercury Staff

UTD officials and faculty commemorated the groundbreaking of a new building on campus on Oct. 6.

The latest addition, which will primarily host the mechanical engineering department, is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2018.

SmithGroupJJR will lead the construction of the 200,000 square foot, $110 million project. The new engineering building will be erected on the site of the Clark Center, which was demolished in June. The project is funded by a revenue financing system, bonds and gifts.

The new building will be four stories tall and house research labs, instructional labs, classrooms, computer labs and an advising suite. The machinery familiar to mechanical engineering will be on display, as much of the building will be made of glass.

The addition will have a two-story lobby with a large interaction space on the first floor. A food feature will be included, as well as a 300-seat auditorium which will be named after Alexander Clark, the former vice president of academic affairs.

Inga Musselman, the senior vice provost, is the project’s advocate and administrative lead. Musselman led the planning and design of the building. She met with the majority of the mechanical engineering faculty, either individually or in small groups, to make sure their specific teaching and research requirements would be fulfilled.

“I have so enjoyed working on this building,” she said. “For me it’s a creative outlet on a very, very large scale that is in striking contrast to my research that uses high resolution microscopy techniques to examine the structure of materials on the microscopic scale. So this is really great to do things really big.”

Hongbing Lu, the associate department head and professor of mechanical engineering, said he is looking forward to having a space that will enhance both traditional student learning and first-hand experiences associated with engineering.

“In this building we have integrated research with teaching,” Lu said. “We have research labs meshed with teaching labs. The students will get to see the research aspects and the teaching at the same time.”

Calvin Jamison, the vice president of administration, has seen many architectural improvements on campus and said the new engineering building is another step in the right direction.

“The architecture firm, SmithGroup, was responsible for building the new Callier Center addition which has done a great job for the campus,” Jamison said. “They have a stellar reputation in working with us in terms of making sure this will be a great facility.”

The building’s location adjacent to newly completed Parking Structure 4 will accentuate the rapidly improving look of the campus and serve as a pleasing sight when entering from Franklyn Jenifer Drive, Jamison said.

“It will add to not only the aesthetics of the campus but also the utilization of the facility will give an inviting feel and be a gateway from the west side of the campus,” Jamison said. “It’s going to an exciting building that compliments the campus well.”