The School of Architecture at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, is updating its historic-though-outdated building with a sleek new edifice featuring an asymmetrical draped roof. The current all-white building, which boasts an arched portico, occupies post-war barracks that were turned into graduate student housing.
The real estate–hogging splay of buildings with four dormitory towers lording over them Rapunzel-like are the work of Robert Law Weed and Marion Manley, Florida’s first female architect, as part of a Modernist master plan. Before 2005 and the creation of the Jorge M. Perez Center for Architecture, the architecture department had to borrow classroom space from other faculties.
Coastal Construction has donated $3.5 million for the new state-of-the-art facility, to be named the Thomas P. Murphy Studio Design Building after UM alumnus and CEO of Coastal Construction. By spring 2017, students will have the privilege of breaking in the new fabrication lab, lounge, computer lab, presentation areas, offices, and workspaces designed for digital production.
The sorely needed upgrades apply to more than just the architecture: a shortage of printers in the past meant that students would have to cut materials by hand during crunch time, and technology was not consistently updated. According to students, the current studios feel “outdated” and create a less-than-flattering impression of the school, often underwhelming visitors from other architecture schools.
While some students welcome the new building, others are dismayed that no input was solicited from the faculty or students in the design process. Others allege the new building is “inconsistent” with the predominant design of the campus, which still boasts some of the older architecture.