The structure that can be seen in the middle of the campus of the University of Texas in Austin is known as the UT Tower or the Main Building. This building is a 307-foot tower and has 28 floors to it. This building sits in the center of the 40-acre campus stretch making it the most recognizable symbol not only in the entire university but in the whole city as well.
The original UT Tower was of Victorian-Gothic design. But because it was very old and the university needed a new library space, the building was demolished and razed in 1934. In its place, there stood the tower that can be seen today. From the old building, only the old carillon bells were preserved.
To design the UT Tower, the University of Texas commissioned Paul Philippe Cret. There were several designs that Cret presented but the university regents preferred the Mediterranean-influenced Beaux-Arts style. This great tower, when it was finished, was the only thing that competed in grandeur with the State Capitol in the city skyline of Austin.
The tower served as a library for some time. Now, it mainly contains the administrative offices of the university. At the top floors, the professors’ offices and department offices can be found.
There were several tragic events that were connected to the tower. In August 1966, a student by the name of Charles Joseph Whitman stationed on top of the tower and shot to death 14 Austin residents using a scoped Remington 700 rifle. As a consequence, the tower was closed off until 1968. It reopened but due to a series of suicide incidents, it was again closed in 1974. The observation deck in the tower was then installed with security and safety measures and was reopened for public visits since 1999.