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Two KU projects win international architecture awards

April 5, 2017

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Two new University of Kansas building projects are among winners of the international American Architecture Awards: the DeBruce Center and the renovated Spencer Museum of Art.

The DeBruce Center is one of ten buildings recognized in the schools and universities category of the awards, according to the awards website.

The $21.7 million donor-funded DeBruce Center, 1647 Naismith Drive, was built to house James Naismith’s original rules of “Basket Ball.” The building — which is connected to Allen Fieldhouse and also features a cafeteria, lounge space and gift shop — opened in April 2016, and the rules were installed the following month.

KU alumnus David Booth and Suzanne Booth purchased the rules at auction in 2010 for $4.3 million.

Visitors were strolling into the new DeBruce Center as the University of Kansas, the Memorial Unions, Student Union Actives and KU Athletics had a grand opening for the public on Saturday July 23, 2016.

Visitors were strolling into the new DeBruce Center as the University of Kansas, the Memorial Unions, Student Union Actives and KU Athletics had a grand opening for the public on Saturday July 23, 2016.

“The architecture breaks with the sports museum conventions of bright colors and bold logos in favor of a more sophisticated building form and a lighter, more reductive materials palette of structural glass, honed black concrete and aluminum,” according to the project description on the awards website.

“At night, the building is silhouetted against a front-illuminated metal scrim, revealing its program and occupants to the broader community. The transparency of the volume highlights the color and circulation of the inhabitants along the ramps — whether students, game-day crowds or groups of basketball history buffs. This spectacle of social activity breathes life into what might otherwise be a very traditional museum experience.”

Gould Evans was the architect for the DeBruce Center, and Mar Lan Construction was general contractor. American Architecture Awards’ project description notes multiple other specialized firms contributing to the uniquely constructed multi-purpose building: structural Engineers Bob D. Campbell and Co.; mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers Henderson Engineers; exhibit designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates Inc.; structural glazing consultants Novum Structures LLC; and acoustical consultants Acoustical Design Kubicki.

The Spencer Museum of Art, 1301 Mississippi St., was honored along with seven other buildings in the “Museums and Cultural Buildings” category, according to the awards website.

New landscaping and entrance displays greet visitors to the new renovated spaces and reinstalled galleries at Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.

New landscaping and entrance displays greet visitors to the new renovated spaces and reinstalled galleries at Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.

An $8 million project to renovate the museum, which originally opened in 1978, took a year and a half. The renovated museum reopened in October 2016.

“The Spencer Museum of Art has been transformed by a major renovation of its galleries, teaching facilities, and public spaces,” according to the American Architecture Awards project description. “New architectural features infuse the building with natural light, connecting art and nature with breathtaking views into historic Marvin Grove.”

The architect was Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects, and Sabatini Architects Inc. of Lawrence was associate architect. Mar Lan Construction was the general contractor for the project.

The annual American Architecture Awards are bestowed by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

Awards for 2017, announced last week, were given to 79 projects in 17 categories, according to a news release. Winning projects are all by American architects but located across the world. An awards ceremony is planned April 27 in Orlando.

Contact KU and higher ed reporter Sara Shepherd
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