Morphosis Selected to Design Masterplan for Museum of Texas Tech University Expansion
Innovative spaces to re-imagine the form and function of a traditional university museum
Global architecture and design firm Morphosis has been selected by Texas Tech University and the Museum of Texas Tech University to develop the planning and design of a visionary expansion to the current museum that would create a new model for university-community engagement. The vision for the multidisciplinary university museum is to span natural history, the STEM disciplines, health sciences, humanities, and the arts. Reflecting the next stage in the evolution of university museum design, and the scope of research and creativity that it will encompass, Texas Tech is calling the new project the Universiteum of Texas Tech, a name which reflects a universal disciplinary scope of research and creativity at the university in order to advance knowledge, student education, and community engagement.
The Universiteum of Texas Tech will create a dynamic interdisciplinary space dedicated to fostering ideas and exchanging cultural experiences that brings together the Museum’s diverse collection of 8 million objects with the entire range of research and academic disciplines of the University. The project will encompass 40,000 square feet of flexible gallery space, including the first large traveling exhibition gallery capable of housing major blockbuster shows in West Texas; a new type of Community Engagement Center that will give faculty, staff, and students an unprecedented public face; and integral new components to the Natural Science Research Laboratory, including laboratories, work areas, and collection storage facilities.
Spearheaded by Morphosis’ Pritzker Prize-winning founder Thom Mayne and principal Arne Emerson, the new Universiteum masterplan will challenge the current definition of a university museum. Expanding the focus beyond the collections to reflect the entire breadth of the intellectual excellence and creativity at the University, the designs will engage visitors with cross-disciplinary programming that span the sciences, technology, engineering, humanities, and human health. Traditional museum exhibits will be infused with hands-on science center practices, creating opportunities for students, faculty, and the local community to engage directly with ground-breaking research and scientific discoveries, enhancing and enriching their knowledge base.
“Texas Tech University has a bold vision to rethink the entire model of what a university museum can be, and so this is a very exciting project for Morphosis, where our practice is rooted in rigorous research and problem-solving,” said Morphosis founder and design director Thom Mayne. “We are pleased to partner with Texas Tech at the outset of this project to shape a masterplan that engages with the natural, social, and built environments of Texas Tech University and allows for the design of the new space to foster the interdisciplinary vision for the Universiteum.”
The Museum of Texas Tech University is Morphosis’ second museum project in Texas. The first, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas opened in 2012, an educational resource for visitors of all ages. The Texas Tech project also builds on the firm’s expertise in building projects for higher education, including the Bloomberg Center at Cornell Tech, the academic hub for the new campus on Roosevelt Island (2017); the Taubman Complex at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan (2016); Emerson College Los Angeles (2014); and Bill & Melinda Gates Hall at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York (2014); among others.
“We are thrilled by the opportunity to design a masterplan for the Museum of Texas Tech University that pushes the boundaries of a traditional university museum, offering future visitors expanded spaces that will actively connect them with the academic discoveries generated by each college on campus,” says Project Principal Arne Emerson. “The project will set a new standard for envisioning how students, faculty, researchers, and the local community can use a museum as a resource for collaboration and creative inspiration.”
“My staff and I look forward to working with Thom Mayne, Morphosis, and their partners in refining the vision of the Universiteum and how it can translate into a world-leading example of sustainable public architecture and landscape,” said Gary Morgan, executive director of the Museum of Texas Tech University. “This is a project that could only happen at a progressive, research-intensive university committed to community engagement. It would build on the strengths of the Museum of Texas Tech University, and on the strengths of the university, to create something that is globally unique. We believe Morphosis is the perfect partner to transform a bold vision into an equally bold reality.”