University of Miami School of Architecture receives Award of Excellence

The Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects has recognized the University of Miami School of Architecture Thomas P. Murphy Design Studio Building with an Honor Award of Excellence.

The need for a dedicate architectural design studio at the University was long overdue and it was affecting recruiting. Discussions on a new creative space were ongoing for many years before Arquitectonica was selected to design the new space. Working closely with Dean Rodolphe el-Khoury and the faculty Arquitectonica spearheaded the project.

“I started teaching at the university before starting my practice so the School of Architecture holds a prominent place in our hearts since I have been tied to the school for more than 40 years,” said Bernardo Fort-Brescia, co-founder of Arquitectonica. Bernardo’s son Raymond Fort, who is a designer with the firm collaborated with Bernardo on the new studio space.

The exposed structure and mechanical equipment is meant to tell the story of construction and sustainability and how a building comes together. The building can operate during daytime without need for artificial lighting. The operable windows remove dependence on air conditioning most of the school year. The overhangs reduce heat load on the glass. The insulation is integrated into the roof system allowing for the expression of the concrete from inside. The building is oriented east-west with continuous glass north and south. The south side has a monumental overhang shielding the place from direct sun. Exposed concrete walls shield he east and west sun. The glass surfaces are operable to allow cross ventilation during the temperate months which largely coincide with the school year.

A single exposed concrete slab levitates over the space. The western wall bends to reset the main entrance on axis with the Krier archway. Its arc‎ creates and outdoor amphitheater setting for outdoor juries. The roof’s southwest corner dips down to increase protection from the afternoon sun and define the outdoor space while expressing the plasticity of concrete. Inside the studio space has a scattering of cubes for different construction: curtains for the jury areas, glass and panels for seminar and meeting space, concrete for the fabrication slab.

In all it was a very collaborative exercise between the all the stakeholders, including the students who provided valuable insight to their needs for the space.

“…simple unifying gestural roof, allows the roof to do many things: extends to form entry + make a porch, interior activity becomes the focal point and part of the design palette.”
– AIA Miami