Creative architecture: New UNR Arts building bags multiple design awards

The University of Nevada, Reno Arts Building opened its door in February last year.

By U2B Staff 

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Spread across nearly 42,500 square feet, the new US$35.5 million University of Nevada, Reno’s University Arts Building has been hailed a superior piece of architecture, bagging several design awards last year just months after launch.

The three-storey facility designed by DLR Group | Westlake Reed Leskosky and built by Q&D Construction Inc. opened its doors in February and by December, earned a notable four awards from architecture groups across the country.

“These regional and national awards herald the superior design and creative architecture of our new University Arts Building,” said UNR College of Liberal Arts dean Debra Moddelmog in a media release.

“They emphasise that the building is not only world-class in terms of how it serves the arts but also aesthetically stunning both inside and out.”


The following is a list of the awards received:

According to the release, the facility was described by the AIA Nevada jury as a “wonderful solution” to the university’s expansion needs, tying “harmoniously” to UNR’s existing structure by using similar materials and forms to open up new spaces for the school.

UNR design awards
A ‘wonderful solution’ to the university’s expansion needs. Source: DLR Group

The University Arts Building was designed to enhance and elevate the education, creation and presentation of the arts on campus, as well as throughout Northern Nevada.

An aesthetically stunning work of art, it was built using a mix of masonry and steel and is clad in brick veneer, custom metal wall panels, and an exterior insulation finishing system. Exposed ground and polished concrete floors add a textural backdrop to common spaces while a glazed curtain wall and storefront systems allow light into the building.

But the University Arts Building is more than just a structure to admire.

As the creative epicentre of UNR, the building was built to encourage collaboration and enhance public appreciation of the arts, offering spaces to inspire interaction between disciplines and allowing passersby to observe the artistic processes and creative activity taking place inside as they walk through the university campus.

The facility features a 287-seat recital hall, designed in wave-like curls to remind inhabitants of an instrument, an art museum, a 3D digital fabrication lab, electroacoustic composition lab, soundproof rehearsal spaces, music practice rooms, music faculty teaching studios and a recording studio.


“After such a strong partnership with the university during the design process to create a world-class acoustic environment for music, a state-of-the-art facility for viewing and exploring the visual arts, and a highly sustainable building, it’s an incredible feeling to be recognised by our peers for design excellence,” said Dennis Bree, DLR Group’s Culture+Performing Arts Design Lead.

“These design awards are a testament to the commitment of providing the best student learning environment with every decision made on the project.”

“It is not at all surprising the design of our new University Arts Building is winning awards – anyone that has had the opportunity to experience the visual and performing arts within it know what an incredibly special building it is,” added School of the Arts Tamara Scronce.