By Steve Brupbacher
In 1931, the University of Texas-Austin created a space that was progressive for the time. The Anna Hiss Gymnasium was the first women’s gymnasium on campus, later named for the director of women’s sports who worked for 36 years at the university.
More than 90 years on, it’s fair to say no one then could imagine how the facility would be used today, but with the right vision and creative planning, the facility now stands as Texas Robotics, a forward-looking laboratory that blends the technical with the creative while leaning into the history that is a hallmark of the campus.
Renovating a historic building into a high-tech lab with the flexibility to serve multiple disciplines is no small undertaking. While general audiences see the obvious updates in the refurbished windows and copper flashing, less apparent is the infrastructure needed to accommodate the activities planned by the new occupants. Now a case study in adaptive reuse, Anna Hiss showcases how purposeful and elegant engineering solutions can reshape a historic structure into a showcase laboratory.