Prairie View A&M University


Designer: Roto Architects

Location: Prairie View, Texas, 45 miles northwest of Houston

Size: 108,000 sq.ft, 3 storeys, 450′ long

Program: offices, art studios, architectural studios

Completion: 2003-2005

Houses: Cultural Center, School of Architecture and Art.

Construction Budget: $20 million


rhythmic diagram show plan’s ordering system


East Elevation: perforated steel veils glazed architecture studios. Contrasting materials and forms effectively distinguish among the functions within. And the sunscreen serves as a shady Southern front porch.


Existing Oak Tree provides entry courtyard

north elevation

north elevation

The building is a concrete structure with brick ,glass and steel cladding.

north elevation

North Elevation: small opening in brick wall contrast large triangular windows.

east elevation

East Elevation: small balcony penetrates sunscreen facade, giving architecture studios a break time space. Art studios are below and glass garage doors can be easily rolled up.


Brick was a given, mandated by the campus planning guidelines. But Rotondi saw this requirement–as an opportunity to challenge the conventions of materials. Roto explored corbeling, where rows of corbels(beak-like appearance) gradually build a wall out from the vertical.


For the interior, Roto produced a central circulation “canyon” that extends up the building’s three stories, providing an informal amphitheater and gallery/pinup space. This central zone is crossed by a web of catwalks, and stairs on tubular steel trusses that swoop like roller coasters.


Scrims of steel cable net, resembling chain link, partially screen the area, not only defining a space within a space, but also producing moiré effects, animated by abundant daylight from the canyon’s clerestory and end windows. Slender steel columns, supporting the slung steel net without reaching the ceiling, lean like casually planted wooden stakes, adding to the dynamism.


4. Gallery/pinup area

9. “canyon”

14. Lounge

15. Architectural studios

16. Porch

Big Ideas

  • brickwork
  • central circulation/ pin-up space…leads to theater/lecture hall

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