The University Co-op Materials Resource Center maintains one of the largest and most comprehensive material collections of its kind at any college or university in the country, if not the world. Currently, the collection stands at 27,000 + material samples and corresponding product literature (manufacturer catalogues, brochures, multimedia, etc.). It mainly consists of traditional building construction materials; however, the collection strives to be reflective of the current building and design market and has a particular focus on smart, innovative, emerging and sustainable design materials and technologies. One of the center's goals is to maintain a current and up-to-date collection, and its staff is continually contacting manufacturers to acquire new and innovative samples.
The collection is organized by the Construction Specifications Institute’s (CSI) Master Format to familiarize students with the industry standards during their undergraduate and graduate education before entering the design profession.
The primary mission of the University Co-op Materials Resource Center is to support the UT School of Architecture’s core purpose and mission “to build excellence in teaching and research, making community connections, and enhancing student life.” The center purposely promotes education in advanced and interdisciplinary materials research, development, design and construction by providing patrons with the knowledge and expertise to develop their individual core practice and code of value when designing and constructing for the built environment.
Most materials can be loaned for a one week period for presentations and/or research purposes, as well as inspiration and a hands-on-material approach to studio and design projects. There are a few select items that are categorized as ‘High Demand Materials’ and are non-circulating or limited to a three-day loan period. The full Circulation Policy can be found here.
The University Co-op Materials Resource Center’s users are mainly comprised of faculty and undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Architecture degree programs – Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Design, Sustainable Design and Historic Preservation. Faculty and students from the College of Fine Arts and the Cockrell School of Engineering have also taken advantage of the resource. The facility is open and available to the entire university, alumni, local design professionals and to the general Austin community.
With the assistance of the University Co-operative Society, the Materials Resource Center, which encompasses the materials collection, gallery/exhibition space, classrooms, as well as the Architectural Conservation Lab, was established in the Fall 2001. It was a product of a merger between the Interior Design program – originally located in the School of Human Ecology (Textiles & Apparel) – and the School of Architecture in 1997. Before the two came together, the architecture school and the interior design program each maintained their own private material collections.