Miró Rivera Architects
VRW Construction Company
SWL Landscape


Located on the grounds of the Texas Exes Alumni Center between Waller Creek and the Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, the Texas Cowboys Pavilion is the only structure on campus named after a student organization. Covering an area of 2,400 square feet, the brick-and-steel pavilion is used for pre- and post-game events, lectures, presentations, and exhibits.


In 1922, a group of 40 students at The University of Texas formed a men’s-only association “to serve the University of Texas at Austin by promoting the spirit and high ideals of the Texas Cowboys, fostering positive relationships among all members of the University community, and assisting in the guidance of the campus Cowboy organization.” Eighty years later, alumni of the organization funded the construction of the Texas Cowboys Pavilion as a place for past and present members to come together for tailgating parties, lectures, and other events.

The pavilion was intentionally designed for one side to open toward the campus, and the other to open up toward Waller Creek, located just behind the structure. Juxtaposed against the massive concrete football stadium, the lightweight structure takes its cues from the existing wooden trellises that line San Jacinto Boulevard adjacent to the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center; their distinctive longhorn profiles are echoed in the pavilion’s upturned, cantilevered canopy. The fully exposed structure, light in its essence and multifunctional in its performance, maintains a strong presence on the campus grounds and provides a flexible space for a variety of outdoor events. The burnt orange paint scheme is a direct nod to the university’s official color.

This deceptively simple structure conceals a variety of functions. The pavilion is comprised of a triangular girder supported by two brick columns and balanced by post-tensioned cables. Fans housed inside the triangular girder provide relief during summer game days. The unique shape of the canopy, which funnels rainwater to the center, led to the addition of a cantilevered gutter that funnels water into a limestone catch basin at one end. The post-tensioned cables act as tracks for translucent screens, which serve as both retractable sunshades and privacy screens; when lowered, the screens provide a background for events and may also be used for projections. Steel and glass fins, or louvers, mimic the dappled shade of the surrounding trees, one of which has continued to grow through the canopy. – Stephanie Gussman

Photo Credits:

Paul Finkel (1-3); Paul Bardagjy (4-9)