The NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game tips off tonight with third ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders going up against #1 ranked Virginia Cavaliers. This is Texas Tech’s first appearance in the Championship Game, and could be Virginia’s first win in school history depending on the game’s outcome. After doing a little digging, both schools have some interesting architectural and steel facts!

Robert Bruno’s “Steel House” at Ransom Canyon; photo credit: The Dallas Morning News

Texas Tech – While teaching at the university, internationally recognized architect Robert Bruno completed a large steel sculpture that later became the inspiration for the Steel House at Ransom Canyon. The sculpture now stands in front of the school’s Architecture Building. Before it was moved to Texas Tech in 2015, it had been in an East Lubbock cotton field for 35 years. Through the University’s “Percent for Art” program, it was permanently moved. The dedication extends to the land around the sculpture as well and named the Robert Bruno Plaza in honor of the former professor.

Bruno’s steel sculpture was an inspiration for the Steel House and now sits in front of Texas Tech’s Architecture Building.

The steel abode was a labor of love of Robert Bruno, an unconventional sculptor who handcrafted it from 1973 until his death in 2008. Located on a ridge overlooking Lake Ransom Canyon, Bruno’s Steel House is made of 150 tons of blackened steel, each piece welded by hand, and was created with virtually no outside assistance. The interior is wooden, resembling the inside of a tree trunk, and many of the windows are made of beautiful stained glass. But after 35 years of hard labor, time got the better of Bruno and his masterpiece was never completed.

University of Virginia – Perhaps one of the most famous architects of American history, Virginia was founded in 1819 by Declaration of Independence author and former President Thomas Jefferson. As Thomas Jefferson‘s last major contribution to American public life, the University of Virginia combined his deepest civic and personal passions: democracy, architecture, and the dissemination of knowledge. Springing from concepts developed in his early years as a politician and gentleman architect, Jefferson’s design for the university, which he called the “Academical Village,” was a large, complicated composition based in the rules and monuments of classical architecture. Probably the most famous building on the campus is The Rotunda, located on The Lawn on the original grounds of the school. It represents the “authority of nature and power of reason” and was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. Construction began in 1822 and was completed shortly after Jefferson’s death in 1826. 

The Rotunda at University of Virginia; photo credit: Wikipedia

No matter the outcome tonight, both of these universities have a lot to boast about that does not include a NCAA Championship title.

READ MORE about Texas Tech’s Robert Bruno and the Steel House

READ MORE about Virginia’s historical architecture