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The University of Texas at Austin

Built in 1905 to serve the Engineering Department, the 30,000 square foot Gebauer Building is now the oldest building on the University of Texas campus. A handsome renaissance revival turn-of-the-century structure, the Gebauer Building presents an unparalleled opportunity to combine restoration architecture with the best elements of adaptive reuse. The first phase of this design effort included an analysis of the existing structure and feasibility study.

The building had been abandoned for several years with structural deficiencies when CKN Architects was commissioned to renovate it for use by the dean and College of Liberal Arts staff. Contrary to previous assumptions, the interior structure was found by the CKN team to be salvageable. Using the existing slabs allowed the preservation and restoration of much of the original interior detailing. Windows were removed and restored, and the entire exterior was restored to its original condition. This included the installation of a reproduced sheet metal cornice which had long been missing. Its design meticulously followed historic drawings and photographs.

Inside, the original pine flooring was uncovered and restored, new mechanical and electrical systems were installed, a new elevator was installed, and the entire building was brought up to current code. New partitions were installed in the open studio wings to create offices. While partitioning and new mechanical systems changed the interior of the building, the feel of the original building remained.

The facility required serious fire and life safety upgrades. One internal fire stair was added, and to conserve much-needed floor space for the administrators, a sensitively-designed second fire stair was designed to replace a not-to-code exterior fire escape.

The Gebauer Building project required extensive programming with user interviews and stakeholder involvement. Roger Kolar was responsible for the programming effort and space planning for this project. David Negrete addressed cost analysis and constructability issues, particularly regarding roof replacement and restoration design solutions.

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