Naked City

Marching About Architecture

On Wednesday, three weeks after renowned Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron resigned as designers of the Jack Blanton Museum of Art on the UT campus, more than 200 students, faculty, and local art and architecture professionals staged a rally to protest the UT Regents' decision to reject the Swiss firm's design for the building.

The architecture firm resigned on Nov. 16 after the UT Board of Regents rejected the second round of preliminary designs for the museum, which will be located at the entrance to the campus at Martin Luther King Blvd. and Speedway. Despite the design's popularity among UT students and faculty, the regents argued that the designs did not fit into UT's Campus Master Plan.

Protesters at the rally, which was organized by the UT student group Advocates for Innovative Campus Architecture, held signs bearing sentiments such as "We're Texas = We're Mediocre" and "Let's Build a Monument to Ignorance." Associate art professor Michael Mogavero began the rally with a statement offered on behalf of many faculty members who were dismayed by the regents' actions. In his speech, Mogavero likened the museum's battle to that of the Vietnam War Memorial, which at the time of its design "did not fit into the mold of sacred monument."

UT architecture dean Larry Speck, who announced he was resigning Nov. 22 to protest the regents' treatment of Herzog & de Meuron, spoke of the university's duty to promote progress in the arts. "We in this great flagship university have a responsibility to serve as a catalyst for positive change in Texas and beyond," Speck said. He cited several cities and universities throughout the country which have adopted progressive art museum designs by internationally known architects adding that "saying we can't make that work when our peer institutions obviously do makes us look provincial and second-rate."

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