Ursuline Academy of Dallas Humanities Building

August 31, 2022

With a state-of-the-art rigging system, orchestra shells, and theatrical lighting, a 1,000-seat auditorium is just one feature of our latest Ursuline Academy of Dallas project. The 92,500 sf project began in June 2020 and was completed in March 2022.

Construction of the three-level, 15,900 sf theater required a second level of scaffolding over the balcony, a stairwell, and a material lift. MDM Scaffolding provided and installed scaffolding that created a 6,000 sf dance floor approximately 42 feet in the air. Twenty-six acoustic ceiling clouds, each weighing 350 to 1,800 pounds, were installed to suspend from the ceiling. In addition, a rigging system was put in place that includes 30 truss battens, each spanning 59 feet across the stage, that can fly four to 44 feet and carry a live load of 700 to 3,235 pounds. To allow for multi-use function of the theater space, a 24- by 14-foot projector screen was installed at the front of the stage.

In addition to the theater, the east campus humanities building is also home to a two-story storm shelter, various art gallery spaces, a student union, outdoor dining, and event spaces on an elevated paver system.

An aspect of this project that set it apart was the collaboration between the project team and the school’s engineering class. The class was assigned a project to design the courtyard that lies in the center of the east campus. After joining the project team for a tour around the job site, they created their own designs for the courtyard. After presenting their designs, they received grades and input from the team on the constructability of their designs.

The west campus also received an expansion that included 8,200 sf of added space, as well as 18,700 sf of renovated space. Dedicated to administration, this space includes two stories of offices, collaboration areas, employee workspaces, and conference rooms. A modernized kitchen with storage, a freezer, cooler, and servery was also included, as well as a renovated and expanded dining space.

With every trade and every type of finish represented, Senior Project Manager Kristen Ortiz affirmed that this was an architecturally unique project.

“The project has a very atypical design, particularly with how it was built into the elevation and grading of the site. The curve radius of the brickwork and glass, both interior and exterior, as well as the structural components of theater space, were complexities that made it a very exciting project to be a part of.”

From a college intern working on a job site for the first time to a veteran lead superintendent on his last project before retirement, this project had someone from every stage in their career represented onsite. Kristen noted that this made for a special group to be a part of and that the whole team worked well together.

While maintaining a standard of hard work and quality results, the team also found ways to keep things fun around the job site.

“For Halloween, we wore costumes, did pumpkin carving, and put skeletons all over the job site to make a funny video of them doing work and wearing PPE,” Kristen said. “We also hosted some holiday food drives with trade partners and enjoyed lots of team lunches. We even managed to get Gary, the veteran lead superintendent, to go to lunch for once, and got a cake with little construction equipment on it to celebrate his retirement.”

Kristen also acknowledged the unique sense of community, not only within the project team but throughout the company.

“We have a staying power with our leadership, and that level of familiarity leads to the highest level of trust within a team. It’s like a family, and we all know each others’ hobbies and kids’ names. Our executive team also conducts safety walks on different projects each month, which I find to be unique in the industry and is well-received by all of us on the job site.”

Seeing this project as a team effort from day one made for an outstanding finished product and a memorable experience for everyone involved- including the faculty, staff, and students that will enjoy this facility for years to come.