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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Students speak out against plans for Architecture Atrium awning

architecture building
architecture building

After 12-hour work days for her architecture class, Grace Gallagher’s favorite thing to do during the late nights is go out and take a breath of fresh air — an option she may not have for much longer. 

The College of Design, Construction and Planning is proposing solutions to combat water damage to the Architecture Building Atrium, and one proposal is a roof. Some students aren’t so happy, arguing the open space provides enormous benefits to their mental health.

Gallagher, a 19-year-old UF architecture sophomore, said students often spend all nighters in studio. They pull out hammocks and make the concrete walls of the architecture building their home.

“The open space and plants help to calm me down,” she said. 

Several building envelope specialists recommended repairs, according to an email sent to students by Chimay Anumba, dean of the College of Design, Construction and Planning.

Anumba wrote in the email that no decisions had been made yet.

“Throughout the years, the Architecture Building has had ongoing water issues,” Anumba wrote. “Including flooding in studios and waterfalls forming on the stairs during rain events.”

Gallagher isn’t the only student against the potential roof. 

Architecture masters student Nicolas DelCastillo began a petition to prevent construction of a roof. It has more than 380 signatures as of Tuesday night with a goal of 500.  

The petition, titled “Stop DCP from covering the Architecture Building Atrium,” lists the reasons that DelCastillo believes a roof is not the best solution to combat water damage.

“Light, Air, Sound, and the open quality of the circulation within the building are what makes our space unique,” he wrote in the petition.

DelCastillo said the discussion between students and faculty over the proposed roof is ongoing, although positive. He declined to answer further questions, saying it is “premature” to do so. 

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KMF Architects, based in Orlando, will handle the project, Anumba wrote. The firm held two town-hall style meetings last Monday to address concerns about building the rain screen with students and faculty.

The original plans of the architecture building called for a covered atrium, but the design was never built due to cost constraints, university architect Cydney McGlothlin wrote in an email. She said the proposed roof may cover walkways and stairways during a downpour, providing a benefit to students.

“But before we would consider this option, the architects would need to demonstrate that covering the atrium would solve these issues better than a different option.”


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