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Kallman McKinnell & Wood selected to design new building for UT Austin’s Blanton Museum

The firm of Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects Inc. (KMW) has been awarded the commission to design the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art’s new building at The University of Texas at Austin. The architectural firm, located in Boston, Mass., will work in partnership with Booziotis & Company of Dallas.

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AUSTIN, Texas —The firm of Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects Inc. (KMW) has been awarded the commission to design the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art’s new building at The University of Texas at Austin. The architectural firm, located in Boston, Mass., will work in partnership with Booziotis & Company of Dallas.

Members of the UT System Regents’ Facilities Planning and Construction Committee made the selection Tuesday (Oct. 3) after interviewing and hearing presentations from the two finalists — KMW and the architectural firm of Michael Graves & Associates, Inc. of Princeton, N.J.

During the past 10 years, almost 75 percent of KMW’s design services have been involved with academic institutions. The firm has designed projects at numerous universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, Emory and Ohio State universities and Washington University in St. Louis. These projects, totaling more than 3.5 million square feet of campus buildings, ranged from a small addition for a philosophy department at Princeton University to an entire new campus for the National Institute of Education at Nanyang University in Singapore.

Michael McKinnell, who has worked throughout the United States and around the world, will take principal responsibility for design of the Blanton Museum’s new facility. McKinnell and his partner, Gerhard Kallmann, were full professors for more than 20 years at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and McKinnell was for several years the Nelson Robinson Jr. Professor of Architecture, the most distinguished position in Harvard’s architecture school.

“We are excited about the talent, experience and enthusiasm that Michael McKinnell brings to the project,” said Rita Clements, who serves as chairman of the Regents’ Facilities Planning and Construction Committee. “I have full confidence that this world-class architect will work closely with us to ensure that the Blanton Museum of Art is a spectacular building. The regents look forward to watching the plans develop.”

KMW was established in 1962, and has won numerous awards including eight AIA Honor Awards and three AIA/Brick in Architecture Awards. It was recognized in 1984 as the AIA Firm of the Year. The firm also is responsible for numerous museum and exhibition related projects through its designs for the Peabody Museum’s Asian Export Wing in Salem, Mass.; the expansion of the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Mass.; and the current renovation project of the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, Md.

At Yale University, KMW provided master planning services for the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale’s British Art Center, among other projects. The firm also designed Boston City Hall, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Mass., and several U.S. embassies.

KMW was awarded the commission after an extensive review process including presentations, interviews and site visits. Another committee — the University’s Blanton architectural advisory committee led by President Larry R. Faulkner — interviewed several firms and selected the two finalists for consideration by the regents’ committee.

“Michael McKinnell is a celebrated architect with a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to the extraordinary success of this project,” said Faulkner. “He captivated the advisory committee with the richness and craft of his work and, especially, with his enthusiasm for the possibilities here. He is a superb choice.”

Hal Box, former dean of architecture at UT Austin and a member of Faulkner’s Blanton architectural advisory committee, said of the selection: “Michael McKinnell and his team will create innovative architecture of such high quality that it will bring pride and acclaim to the University and to Austin. We can look forward to having a extraordinary museum.”

Houston businessman and philanthropist Jack S. Blanton, for whom the museum is named, said he looks forward to being of any help and support he can to see the museum a reality. “I have a real sense of excitement about Michael McKinnell’s capabilities and talent.”

The new Blanton Museum will encompass 150,000 square feet and will provide much needed gallery space to display the museum’s rapidly growing permanent collection of 13,000 works as well as new facilities for teaching and research. The past five years have been a time of tremendous growth for the Blanton’s holdings, including the acquisition of the Suida-Manning Collection in 1998.

Scheduled to open in 2004, the new facility will be located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Speedway, one of the main entrances to the UT campus and the nearby Texas state capitol. To date, the museum has raised more than $32 million in gifts and pledges for the Blanton’s capital and endowment campaign.

“Kallmann McKinnell & Wood has demonstrated a keen understanding and appreciation of what the new building must accomplish to respond to the Blanton’s dual role as a dynamic component of the UT community, and an important cultural resource for the city of Austin,” said Jessie Otto Hite, director of the Blanton Museum and a member of the University’s Blanton architectural advisory committee. “All of us on the committee were impressed with their work on other campuses and my colleagues within the museum community have praised their work.”