Situated on the corner of West University Avenue and Southwest 13th Street, Heavener Hall epitomizes the UF Alma Mater.
Its gothic walls stretch up past the palms and moss-covered oaks that surround it.
“It’s like it was always there,” said UF architecture professor Bradley Walters.
The building, which opened for classes in January and houses UF’s undergraduate business school inside its big bay windows and aged-looking brick, is one of 48 buildings nominated in the Florida American Institute of Architects’ People’s Choice Award.
The Florida AIA has received more than 17,000 votes. Of those, Heavener Hall is in the top five, according to a press release.
The use of true limestone and brick materials will ensure Heavener ages gracefully without a lot of upkeep, said Walters, who serves as the Gainesville AIA president.
While the building is physically beautiful, Heavener Hall’s project manager Howie Ferguson wrote in an email that it’s impressive for being a “modern, sustainable, and technologically-advanced (sic) facility on a prominent corner of campus.”
The planning team followed campus guidelines about historic preservation.
“Most of us (involved with Heavener’s design) believe the building and the redeveloped site and ‘gateway’ to campus ARE beautiful,” Ferguson said, “but the award has more to do with positively impacting the community...”
Ferguson said the building makes use of both indoor and outdoor space, citing the functionality of usable metal tables and chairs in its courtyard area.
Named after UF alumnus and Full Sail University CEO Bill Heavener, the hall is the new hub for undergraduates in UF’s College of Business.
It features high archways that overlook a courtyard with an 8-foot-tall, bronze Gator statue, which was revealed Monday.
Heavener Hall’s open study area is filled with light and tables fit for collaborating and sharing lunch with friends.
UF religion junior Michaela Coughlin sat near a window there and prepared for her Wednesday class.
“I just like the feel of it because it’s more informal,” the 19-year-old said, explaining that people feel free to chat in the space more than they do in libraries.
Voting for the People’s Choice Award opened June 30 and can be done at floridapeopleschoice.org/ until July 31 at midnight.
The winner will be announced at AIA Florida’s Annual Convention in Boca Raton on Aug. 1.
Whether Gainesville residents choose to vote for Heavener or another building, Walters said he encourages people to visit this year’s nominated structures.
“It’s important that we take a moment and recognize buildings that are worthy of recognition,” Walters said.
[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 7/9/15]
Ansley Pentz is a 20-year-old UF journalism sophomore. She covers the university and the city for the Alligator, and she likes lipstick, orca whales and reading John Green novels.