University of the Incarnate Word branded the former AT&T building on Broadway Street with its logo Monday, beginning the process of expanding the university’s physical footprint, President Thomas Evans said.

The addition of the “iconic building” designed by noted architect Atlee B. Ayers will expand the UIW campus by more than 15 percent and double the university’s academic space, Evans said.

The eight-story building will be the home of the Liza and Jack Lewis III Institute of the Americas, established to improve relationships among North, Central, and South American nations and residents.

“This really is a physical expansion, but it also just helps us expand our mission, expand our academic reach and all the things that we can do,” he said. “It really unlocks a lot of potential for us that we’re really excited about.”

The university announced its intention to purchase the building in May 2019.

The building, named Founders Hall, sits on about 10.4 acres and has more than 350,000 square feet for administrative offices, academic departments, and the Liza and Jack Lewis III Institute of the Americas.

The UIW campus currently encompasses about 70 acres, Evans said.

UIW replaced the AT&T logo on the building with its logo Monday, the first step of many in converting that space into an extension of the university across Hildebrand Avenue. AT&T moved out of the building last month.

“Having the ability to put our mark on it literally is very exciting,” Evans said.

The coronavirus pandemic is not expected to impact the development of the building, but the university can start planning and working with an architect on designing Founders Hall. Evans said the Institute of the Americas could move in as early as fall 2021.

The outer circle of the University of the Incarnate Word’s logo is seen on the old AT&T building. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

UIW also will redevelop the grounds surrounding the building so the property matches other university facilities, while also preserving the history and legacy of the structure. 

The property will add about 1,000 parking spaces to UIW, 500 of which will be in a parking garage adjacent to the old AT&T building, said Michael Valdes, university spokesperson.

Founders Hall is so large that UIW could almost fit all of its current facilities into that building, Evans said. The space will allow the university to free up room in other buildings for students by moving administrative offices into some of the top floors.

“We’ll need to renovate the entire building, floor by floor,” Evans said. “There’s so much we can do in there.”

And UIW plans to continue expanding beyond Founders Hall, which could become the center of a district that includes new student housing and retail establishments geared toward students, Evans said. That development would take years.

Evans declined to disclose the price of the building. Valdes said the board has not authorized the release of financial details.

Tax records show the property is assessed at about $21 million, up from $17 million two years ago.

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Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum covered education for the San Antonio Report.