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Wilford stars in American dream double

NEWS: Michael Wilford has unveiled two new schemes - both in the US - designed by his new practice, Michael Wilford Architects, in collaboration with young UK practice MUMA

This complex, for the University of Michigan, US, includes a 7,600m 2drama centre and a 13,500m 2undergraduate science centre.

The science centre and drama centre combine to form a 'T'shaped building which provides visual termination to the campus' 'Arts Axis'. The drama centre occupies eight levels in the north end of the 'T'. It includes a 450-seat courtyard theatre dedicated to Arthur Miller, a 175-seat studio theatre, rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms, scene and costume shops and acting studios for the drama department. The dramatic enclosure of the Arthur Miller theatre is suspended within the west wall of the 'T', which provides the backdrop to a new public plaza and amphitheatre which sit on top on an existing car park structure.

Public entry is from both the upper parking levels and the Plaza via a glazed lobby to the main foyer above by elevator and escalator. The Undergraduate Science Centre is accommodated in the remainder of the 'T'. The entrance, three lecture theatres, resource centre, cafe, lounge and exhibition area, are at plaza level. The drama department is on the second level, linked by bridges to the stage and rehearsal levels of the Walgreen Drama Centre. Science laboratories and offices are on the upper levels.

North/south and east/west pedestrian cross routes integrate the plaza within the surrounding campus.

GBBN Architects, Cincinnati is associate architect for the drama centre and SmithGroup, Detroit is the associate architect for the science centre.

The complex is due to open in 2004.

Michael Wilford and MUMA have also designed a US$125 million (£88 million) 25,700m 2library which brings the centre of the campus at Rice University, Houston, Texas, more in line with the vision put forward by Cram Goodhue & Ferguson in the original masterplan.The library comprises two linear wings, derived from the traditional Rice campus building typology, connected at their western ends into a more complex vertical assembly of spaces including a Grand Reading Room and a concourse contained within a glazed rotated ellipse. Centred on the campus cross-axis, the Reading Room is the dominant element of the composition.Readers will be able to view the campus over the tree canopies and at night the Reading Room and concourse will act as beacons, reinforcing the library's importance and 24-hour activity.

Two levels of accommodation are underground in order to scale the building to its immediate neighbours. The eastern end of the library is formally rigorous in response to the architecture of the existing academic court.The smaller court, contained between the wings, leads to the library's formal east entrance while the more relaxed architecture of the western end responds to the informality of the Great Court.

Kendall/Heaton Associates is the associate architect. The building is due for completion in 2004.

Michael Wilford Architects can now be contacted at 7 Chalcot Road, London NW1 8LH tel 020 7722 2929 or Lone Oak Hall, Chuck Hatch, Hartfield, East Sussex TN7 4EX e-mail michaelwilford@michaelwilford. com

MICHAEL WILFORD + MUMA: Michael Wilford, Stuart McKnight, Simon Usher, Gillian McInnes, David Artis, Simon Branson, Pamela Campbell, Sonia Grant, Elinor Hughes, Monika Lenkmann, Andrew Llowarch, Ben Paul, Helle Westergaard

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