The two-story, 68,000-square-foot Crow Museum of Asian Art will be the first part of the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Jr. Athenæum. In subsequent phases, the Crow Museum will be joined by a two-story, 53,000-square-foot performance hall, and lastly, a two-story 50,000-square foot museum dedicated to the traditional arts of the Americas. These all sit on the western corner of the development, while a huge (1,100-space) parking garage anchors the east side. Critical to the hot-as-hell climate, each building’s second floor will be larger than the first to create shaded overhangs for hanging out, studying, and outdoor performances. Each structure will also be clad in 3D white precast concrete panels for a very Morphosis-like finish.
According to university officials, the school doubled down on its arts focus eight years ago, when the same Edith O’Donnell for whom the current project is named funded an art history research institute. Its leaders envisioned the Athenæum as a center for arts, literature, and learning that will better connect UT Dallas to both the Dallas Arts District and the communities that abut the university.
The Crow Museum’s collection holds over 1,000 ancient through contemporary works from East and South Asia, plus a small library. The new building will house the second location for the Crow Museum and feature 16,000 square feet of flexible gallery space, art storage, seminar rooms, a conservation lab, administrative offices, and the Brettell Reading Room, which will feature the personal library of the late Rick Brettell, an art historian and prominent figure in the Dallas arts community who served as founding director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History.
“Morphosis is pleased to partner with The University of Texas at Dallas for this important project, giving us the opportunity to help shape the University’s bold vision for the arts on campus,” said Arne Emerson, Morphosis partner and the design partner on the project. “The O’Donnell Athenæum will transform the UT Dallas campus with buildings and open spaces for the visual and performing arts that will allow both students and the surrounding community to experience the convergence of art and architecture in ways not previously possible at the University.”
Following an international search, in 2019 UT Dallas selected Los Angeles-based Morphosis to master plan and design the Athenæum’s buildings.
The project is supported in part by a $32 million gift from the O’Donnell Foundation. Phase One, which includes the second location of the Crow Museum of Asian Art, will open in spring 2024. The concert hall debuts in phase two, with the folk art museum coming in the third development phase.