Sciences Building Becomes Campus’s Newest Star Attraction This Fall

Students returning to The University of Texas at Dallas campus for the fall semester will find the new Sciences Building has opened and a portion of Rutford Avenue is now a landscaped pedestrian promenade. The University also has made physical adjustments on campus to accommodate social-distancing guidelines.

“Students, faculty and staff will return to a different normal at UT Dallas,” said Dr. Calvin D. Jamison, vice president for facilities and economic development. “In addition to the excitement around new construction and retail, we have created our own version of a bubble with strong health, safety and security protocols. It is important that the entire campus community use face coverings and practice social distancing and frequent sanitizing. The University’s positive response to COVID-19 depends on it.”


The new 186,000-square-foot Sciences Building opened in July and houses the Department of Physics, classrooms, offices, teaching and research labs, and some activities of the William B. Hanson Center for Space Sciences. The building features 150-seat and 300-seat lecture halls and an open courtyard with green space and seating areas.

The new building is an “absolutely gorgeous space,” said Dr. Matthew Goeckner, interim head of physics and associate dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM). “It will not only provide enough space for teaching labs, but it will also enable the entire physics department to be under one roof rather than scattered in eight buildings across campus.

“Being in one place is critical to having those hallway conversations where some interesting ideas turn into world-changing ideas across subdisciplines.”

Dr. Bruce Novak, professor of chemistry, former NSM dean and the holder of the Francis S. and Maurine G. Johnson Chair, advocated for the new building. Novak said the L-shaped design will allow students to see science in action as they pass teaching labs on the ground floor.

A portion of Rutford Avenue is now a pedestrian promenade, part of the ongoing Campus Landscape Enhancement project on campus. The section north of Loop Road is still undergoing renovation.

“We’re thrilled with it. This building really enhances our ability to teach in a modern physics lab setting,” Novak said. “I can’t praise the architect firm Stantec and the construction firm Linbeck enough. It was just beautiful how it all came together, and they kept it on schedule.”

The second and third floors of the building share a departmental lounge space with couches and large-screen TVs for informal cross-collaboration among faculty and students.

Because the building’s basement was built close to bedrock, it will enhance physics research for experiments that require minimal vibrations, “the lowest temperature you can conceive,” or a dark environment for laser spectroscopy, Novak said. 

“For me, very rarely in your life do you get the opportunity to be in a project from the very first marks on paper to being able to utilize that space,” Novak said.

Outside the Sciences Building, students will be able to enjoy the new pedestrian-only section of Rutford Avenue as part of the third phase of the ongoing Campus Landscape Enhancement project. Construction will continue along Rutford Avenue north of Loop Road to replace concrete and install a right turn lane onto Synergy Park Boulevard.

The campus enhancement work will continue between Berkner Hall and the Founders North building. Other ongoing construction and renovation projects include an expansion of the parking lot at Canyon Creek Heights South; replacement of the gymnasium floor and renovation of the mezzanine/stairwell area in the Activity Center; and preparation for a new wildflower area that will be planted in the fall at Waterview Parkway and Synergy Park Boulevard.

Classrooms across campus have been reconfigured for social-distancing guidelines, with spaced-out seating and daily sanitizing protocols. Several unique areas will be used for additional class space, including the Student Services Building Addition Auditorium, and the Faculty Staff Dining Room and Galaxy Rooms in the Student Union.

The newest phase of Northside, a mixed-use project just north of campus, has added 370 beds and expanded dining options to the complex, including a new stand-alone 1,700-square-foot Starbucks near Synergy Park Boulevard and North Floyd Road. Work has begun on the fourth phase of the complex, which will open in fall 2021.

Also at Northside, construction continues on the UT Dallas station on the new Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Silver Line. The 26-mile Cotton Belt Corridor project extends between Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Shiloh Road in Plano and traverses seven cities: Grapevine, Coppell, Dallas, Carrollton, Addison, Richardson and Plano. It is expected to begin operating in December 2022.

For information about construction on or around campus, visit the Pardon Our Progress website. The new “wayfinding” feature on the campus map will enable pedestrians to avoid real-time construction areas.

Parking and Transportation

A License Plate Recognition System that automatically reads license plates on campus has eliminated the need for physical parking stickers. Virtual parking permits must still be purchased, however. Up to five vehicles may be registered to a permit in MyParking, but only one vehicle per permit can be parked on campus at any given time.

The third phase of the Northside complex is now complete, adding 370 beds and more dining options to the campus area.

Parking guidance systems in parking structures will help drivers find available spaces. Drivers can find spaces in real time by checking display signs at parking structure entrances or by clicking on the parking tab on the UTD mobile app (Apple, Android).

Four additional electric vehicle stations have been installed on campus, including a new residential location in Lot T. There are 11 stations on campus.

Comet Cabs, the University’s campus shuttle service, will be suspended to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The Comet Cruiser, the DART Route 883 buses that serve the University, will have a new combined west route and schedule this year. No pass or identification is needed to use this bus. Masks are required for all riders over the age of 2. Hand sanitizers and masks will be available on board, and passengers will enter through the rear door of the bus. Buses will be sanitized after each route cycle is completed. Review the route maps and schedules for the latest information.

Students may get their DART passes via the DART mobile app. To request a DART GoPass for a mobile phone, UT Dallas students must be enrolled and have a valid Comet Card.

For more information, contact Parking and Transportation.


Dining Hall West (DHW) and the Student Union have been reconfigured to allow safe seating. Servers will bring meals to tables in DHW, and some food providers in the Student Union will use the mobile app for taking orders for remote pickup locations. Dining hours have been adjusted to allow for sanitation.

Food vendors’ locations and operating hours can be found on the Dining Services website and in the What’s Open Now feature on the UTD mobile app’s Dining Services tab.

Taco Bell will replace IHOP Express at Parking Structure 3 this fall.

About a dozen local food trucks on a rotating schedule will provide dining options Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the walkway between the Student Union and the Engineering and Computer Science North building.

Starship Technologies will operate food delivery vehicles. Anyone on campus can order through the Starship Deliveries app to have food delivered from multiple on-campus locations by one of the robots.

For more information, visit the Dining Services website, and follow dining updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].