AUSTIN-Construction is to begin in December on the 135,000-sf Blanton Museum of Art on the University of Texas campus. A formal ground-breaking has kicked off the project, which will keep construction crews busy in Austin as the pace of commercial projects stays slow due to the sluggish economy.

The project has received $60 million in public and private funds toward its goal of $83.5 million. The opening is scheduled for 2005, a museum contact tells

The two-building facility will provide galleries, meeting rooms and educational space at the southern edge of the Austin campus. It will sit across Martin Luther King Boulevard from the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum and four blocks north of the Texas Capitol.

The Boston-based firm Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects Inc. designed the facility and is working with project architect Booziotis & Co. Architects of Dallas. Atlanta-based Beers Construction Co. is the project’s general contractor.

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