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. Athenaeum. In subsequent phases, the Crow Museum will be joined by a two-story 53,000 square foot performance hall, and finally, a two-story 50,000 square foot museum dedicated to the traditional arts of the Americas. These are all located at the western corner of the development, while a huge car park (1,100 spaces) anchors the eastern side. Essential in the hot-as-hell climate, the second floor of each building will be taller than the first to create shaded overhangs for relaxing, studying and performing outdoors. Each structure will also be clad in 3D white precast concrete panels for a very Morphosis finish.
According to university officials, the school doubled down on its artistic focus eight years ago, when the same Edith O’Donnell for whom the current project is named funded a Art History Research Institute. Its leaders envisioned the Athenaeum as a center for the arts, literature, and learning that will better connect UT Dallas to both the Dallas Arts District and the communities that adjoin the university.
The Crow Museum’s collection contains over 1,000 ancient and contemporary works from East and South Asia, as well as a small library. The new building will house the Crow Museum’s second location and will include 16,000 square feet of flexible gallery space, art storage, seminar rooms, a curatorial lab, administrative offices and the reading room. Brettell, which will include the personal library of the late Rick Brettell, art historian and prominent figure in the Dallas art community who served as founding director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History.
“Morphosis is thrilled to partner with The University of Texas at Dallas on 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 project design partner. “The O’Donnell Athenæum will transform the UT Dallas campus with buildings and open spaces for the visual and performing arts that will allow students and the surrounding community to experience the convergence of art and architecture in a way that was not possible before at the university.”
Following an international search, in 2019 UT Dallas selected Los Angeles-based Morphosis to plan and design the Athenaeum 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 popular art museum entering phase three of development.