School of Architecture unveils skillfully built new Center

A crowd of elegantly dressed people gathered outside the Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center sipping cocktails, eating hors d’oeuvres and mingling amid a background of light classical music to inaugurate the new building on Tuesday.

The ceremony, which began in the Stanley and Jewell Glasgow Lecture hall with an introduction by Dean of the School of Architecture Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, included speakers such as President Donna E. Shalala. Also in attendance was Jorge M. Perez, member of the University’s Board of Trustees, for whom the building was named. Perez’s gift to the Momentum Campaign in 2002 pushed forward the School of Architecture’s building ambitions, which was originally launched in 1998.

In her speech, Shalala emphasized the importance of the building to the University. She also described it as a reflection of the School of Architecture.

“We needed a building as brilliant and as creative as the University architecture faculty, and we got it,” Shalala said.

The event brought students, professors and professionals in the field outside of UM together to witness the inauguration of the work of art.

“It was nice to see how the building brought together the architectural community,” Victoria Flattau, fifth-year architecture student, said.

The $6 million, 8,600 square foot building was designed by Leon Krier, a world-renowned architectural theorist and leader in traditional architecture and urbanism. He was also the guest of honor at the inauguration.

“It is an exciting experience that the students will be studying in a building that has been designed by an architect whose work they themselves have studied,” Anne Finch, alumna, said.

The building incorporates many different architectural aspects such as pillars, arches and pediments into one structure.

“This building is one of the most beautiful architectural statements I have ever seen,” Perez said. “It brings together so many aspects of architecture into one powerful statement.”

The new building includes an auditorium, a gallery and lecture halls. It will also serve as a meeting place for students and as common ground for all students at the School of Architecture.

Last year, UM Architecture students were given the opportunity to visit the construction site and observe the assembly of the new building.

“They took students throughout the construction process [periodically] with hardhats so we could see the development of the building,” Rachel Thomas, sophomore, said. “It was a learning experience because we are being trained in the design and now we could watch it being put together.”

The construction of the building serves a dual purpose. On one hand it is an architectural statement, a culmination of creativity and design. On the other hand, it is a monument that educates the students of architecture.

“Absolutely fantastic, a beautiful addition to the University,” Frank Martinez, associate professor, said. “More importantly, it honors the notion of people collecting to speak about academic issues.”

Karunya Krishnan can be contacted at