From Drums to Drones: UNT’s Renovated Jazz Lab and New Advanced Air Mobility Test Center

Both projects were competed recently by Adolfson & Peterson Construction—improving the acoustics for the seven-time Grammy-nominated One O’Clock Lab Band and eight other jazz lab bands while giving drones and ground autonomous vehicles room to fly and roam.

The Jazz Lab at the University of North Texas has a new look to go with its straight-ahead sounds. Elsewhere on the Denton campus, a new Advanced Air Mobility Test Center is supporting research in unmanned air systems and ground autonomous vehicles.

Both projects were competed recently by Adolfson & Peterson Construction (AP), a leading national construction management firm based in Minneapolis with a local office in Richardson.

If it’s One O’Clock, the joint is jumpin’

The UNT College of Music’s Jazz Lab serves as rehearsal space for UNT’s nine different jazz lab bands, including the seven-time Grammy-nominated One O’Clock Lab Band, as well as four vocal jazz ensembles. Its renovation features nearly 4,000 square feet of updated space within the UNT Music Building. The project encompassed acoustical performance improvements, interior renovations, the addition of instructional technology with recording/webcasting capabilities, and new furnishings, along with HVAC and ADA compliance modifications, AP said.

Courtney Lane, AP’s assistant project manager for the Jazz Lab renovation, said the wooden dowel assembly lining the facility’s walls “required extensive coordination” between AP and the design firms involved—SmithGroup, HGA, and [project acoustic consultant] Kirkegaard—as well as project producer Redbud Architectural Systems and installer Post L Group.

“There was a lot of brainstorming in the fabrication of this assembly,” Lane told Dallas Innovates. “Finalizing the design, producing the quantity needed, and working out the delivery and installation logistics, while maintaining the quality and integrity of the system necessary to ensure the end-result would allow for optimal acoustic performance in the space and achieve the desired aesthetic—all in roughly eight months—was quite a challenge. But we met our deadline.”

Besides the wooden dowel assembly, other acoustical improvements were provided by panels and baffles along the Jazz Lab’s walls and ceiling, “and a lot of specialty sound-rated materials such as doors, frames, and wall assemblies throughout the facility,” Lane said.

UNT’s College of Music team was “deeply involved in the design of the Jazz Lab project,” added AP Project Executive Mike Ortiz, who noted that HGA designed the wooden dowel assembly.

SmithGroup, an international architecture firm with an office in Dallas, was the project architect for the Jazz Lab renovation.

“These improvements will support our talented students as they continue developing their skills for many years to come,” Jeff Brown, UNT’s Associate VP for facilities, said of the Jazz Lab updates. 

A netted test center keeps drones in their place

UNT Air Mobility Lab [Photo: Chad M. Davis, AIA]

UNT’s Avanced Air Mobility Test Center is a 120-foot long, 300-foot wide, 80-foot high netted facility buzzing with drones and whirring with ground autonomous vehicles.

A contained facility creating all-weather conditions, the Air Mobility Lab “enables testing and analysis of Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV) physical robustness and safety criteria including hard-ground impact, collisions and effects of high-speed maneuvers on flight dynamics and controls,” said AP Project Executive Mike Ortiz. 

“This facility is part of UNT’s Center for Integrated Intelligent Mobility Systems, which brings together various expertise, including engineering and business, around intelligent mobility, such as autonomous flight, ground vehicles and the systems that enable their deployment,” he added. 

Ortiz said AP’s main consideration for the Air Mobility Lab was that it had to be “in full FAA compliance.” AP also worked closely with UNT to complete both projects in unison, “which required close coordination,” he added.

“The UAAM Test center is amazing,” UNT’s Brown said. “We look forward to seeing the research that takes place in this facility, propelling drone technology forward.”

Houston-based Walter P Moore served as the architect for the Air Mobility Lab.

Ortiz noted that “as one of Texas’ largest universities, UNT is a premier institute of higher education for DFW and the entire state, and it’s a privilege to complete two building projects for the campus.”

“Universities are vital for our future,” he added. “To continue having an impact, these facilities need to be updated with the latest technology and offer new research opportunities. The facility upgrades and the new building help UNT continue to thrive as a top university.”

So how did AP’s teams manage two such different simultaneous projects on one campus?

“AP is known for our willingness and ability to tackle complicated, unique projects through innovative approaches while still delivering quality work,” Ortiz said. “We do this through working together with our project partners to provide innovative thinking and solutions to complex challenges, which sets us apart from other general contractors.”

Just two of several AP higher ed projects in Texas

AP has worked on several other higher education projects across the state of Texas, with current and past projects performed at The University of Texas Permian-Basin, Midland College, Southern Methodist University, UT Austin, and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

AP Gulf States’ current projects include converting office space into nearly 300 apartments at downtown Dallas’ Santander Tower. Additionally, AP’s recent notable completed projects include the new PGA of America headquarters in Frisco, Vari’s headquarters with VariSpace in Coppell, and Buildings 17 and 18 at Billingsley Company’s International Business Park in Plano. The AP Central Texas office recently broke ground on Sunrise Commerce Center in Round Rock.

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