In 2006, MA+ Architecture of Oklahoma City starting working on
renderings and a feasibility study for the renovation and expansion
to Ellsworth Collings Hall at the University of Oklahoma.
After a successful fundraising campaign, OU approved a project to
remodel the existing building opened in 1952 and for an addition and
hired MA+ Architecture for the project.
Now with the project nearing completion - faculty and staff
members are expected to move in this summer and classes are expected
to begin this fall - MA+ Architecture has been involved with more
than 250 educational architecture projects and the sector accounts
for a large part of the firm's business.
"Education accounts for about 75 percent of our business," said
Gary Armbruster, a principal and architect for the firm.
Education projects include architecture and additional services
for other private and state universities and public and private
elementary, middle and high schools.
"We've done elementary and high schools, universities,
renovations and new designs, not to mention the many projects such
as gymnasiums, residence halls and administration buildings and
complete campus master plans," said Armbruster.
Collings Hall has been used for OU College of Education students,
faculty and staff for more than 50 years and demand for space had
increased to exceed available capacity. The building also was in
need of upgrades because of current technology requirements and
updates for current building codes, including the Americans with
"Bringing the facility up to OU's technology standards was
challenging in a '50s-era building with low ceilings and required
creativity in the layout of the rooms to accommodate the additional
electrical and technology required," he said.
Future technology was a consideration in the design.
"Because technology is constantly changing we have to design
schools with the future in mind and make the designs as flexible as
possible," Armbruster said.
Collings Hall is an example of changing architecture for
"This is a far cry from our first educational project, which was
an expansion of the open classroom at the old New World School in
Oklahoma City," said Paul Meyer, principal and architect for the
Meyer founded Meyer Architects in 1968. In 2005, MA+ Architecture
was formed, with Meyer and Armbruster as principals.
The original Collings Hall with 36,291 square feet is being
enlarged to more than 53,000 square feet, which will bring all of
the College of Education's programs into one building. The addition
includes a classroom, multipurpose classroom, curriculum library,
new faculty offices and new restrooms.
Challenges included designing the facility to accommodate current
and anticipated technological requirements and still have the
finished product blend with the rest of the campus. …