The Battle Hall

Battle Hall (Eastern façade). Photo Credit: (CC) Larry D. Moore

Located along the west mall, you’ve probably walked by the Battle Hall a countless number of times, but did you know that it’s considered to be the architectural gem of campus?

Battle Hall Door (Eastern façade). Photo Credit: (CC) mrjojo

New York architect Cass Gilbert, who was also the architect U.S. Supreme Court building, designed the Battle Hall in 1911.  The Battle Hall was originally the university’s main library until 1937 when it was used for fine arts classes and administrative purposes.  It became the Eugene C. Barker Texas History Center from 1950 to 1973 when the Texas history exhibit was moved to Sid Richardson Hall, and the building was re-named in honor of Dr. William James Battle, the sixth UT president (from 1870-1955).  Currently, the Battle Hall houses the Architecture and Planning Library, the Alexander Architectural Archive and the Center for American Architecture and Design.

Gilbert designed the Battle Hall in a Spanish-Mediterranean revival style, which became the model for future buildings on campus.  Sutton Hall is the only other UT campus of Gilbert’s design.

Battle Hall Soffit Detail. Photo Credit: (CC) Larry D. Moore

Sophomore Lauren Rego, a bio-chemistry major, likes the Battle Hall for it’s “quaint, antique-y” atmosphere and said she goes there when she needs “a place to recuperate and focus.”

“[The Architecture and Planning Library] is really dimly lit, but it’s still a nice place to study because when the sun is out, it is flooded with light,” she said.

The Battle Hall is also the only UT academic building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

And another fun fact:  the Battle Hall ranked 150 (out of 150) in a 2007 public poll of America’s Favorite Architecture, held by The American Institute of Architects.  The Empire State Building in New York City tops the list.

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2 responses to “The Battle Hall

  1. Really interesting post and a lot of good links. I’ve never actually gone inside the building, but I might check it out now with those descriptions.

  2. Okay honestly, in the past 5 years that I’ve been at UT I have walked past this building countless of times and NEVER knew this information about the building! This post was absolutely fascinating! Thanks!

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