Long known as a vibrant arts campus, the School of the Arts at the University of Nevada, Reno, has hosted the university’s art, music, theater, and dance departments at its arts complex designed by renowned Modernist architect Richard Neutra since 1962. As UNR’s student population continued to grow and its arts programs expanded, the building began to present limitations in size and accessibility, prompting the need for a new facility.
In February 2019, the 42,500-SF state-of-the-art University Arts Building designed by DLR Group|Westlake Reed Leskosky officially opened its doors. The new, three-story facility features a 287-seat recital hall, museum of art, fabrication lab, electroacoustic composition lab, soundproof rehearsal spaces, music practice rooms, faculty office spaces, and a recording studio.
Engaging the topography of the site, DLR Group|WRL’s design activates an outdoor plaza that links to campus pathways and preserves a large grass hill, the last remaining piece of the university's original football stadium. An elevated walkway connects the original Church Fine Arts building with the new facility. Visitors entering the University Arts Building are greeted by a multitiered lobby, which connects to the plaza, street, and bridge levels, and showcases performance, display, and learning.
DLR Group|WRL’s premier acoustic design solutions are achieved through smart blocking and stacking, separating spaces along the length of the building, and building systems that minimize the impact of background noise. The recital hall’s narrow bowl shape promotes early sound lateral reflections while balancing late-arriving sound reflections elsewhere in the space, creating reverberation and the effect of being enveloped by sound. Lower wooden walls in the space are designed to be highly diffusive, broadcasting sound in many directions; upper side walls conceal variable acoustic drapery and acoustic diffusive panels. To accommodate a variety of performance needs, the room can be tuned and adjusted for reverb time. The wraparound balcony affords audiences a unique perspective, and closer views of musician hand positions and conductor gestures.
The electroacoustic composition lab, a first-of-its-kind in Nevada, features octophonic sound with eight speakers positioned around the room that can work in unison or function independently to support the creation and performance of music. DLR Group|WRL’s design for the EAC lab is highly flexible, with deeply embedded technology and infrastructure that allow for digital music composition, playback, and enhanced cross-discipline collaboration between musicians, and students in video production, visual arts, and engineering.
Galleries in the Lilley Museum of Art feature atmospheric and security protocols to house and display oversized objects, antique and climate-sensitive artworks, and items of significant value, improving the university’s ability to borrow artwork from collectors and museums. Its north-facing position allows abundant daylight to enter the upper level and creates a front porch effect at the lower level.
DLR Group|WRL’s focused on holistic design strategies tailored to the local climate, maximizing the use of natural daylighting and utilizing energy-efficient building systems to achieve LEED NC Silver certification. These solutions include displacement air distribution, LED lighting systems, low water xeriscape landscape planting, and a cool roof system that reduces heat island effect, producing a 30 percent reduction from baseline campus buildings.
DLR Group acquired Westlake Reed Leskosky in September 2016. Today, the combined design expertise and resources of Westlake Reed Leskosky and DLR Group serve clients as a global, integrated design firm committed to elevating the human experience through design.