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Texas A&M reimagining Academic Plaza, investing about $1 million

Texas A&M University
Posted at 10:46 AM, Jun 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-10 11:53:48-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — Texas A&M's Board of Regents is looking to add more green spaces and historical context to their flagship campus in College Station.

With a target investment of $1 million, the current conceptual designs build upon their 2017 Campus Master Plan. This plan also includes a blueprint for additional spaces to honor Aggie contributions for years to come.

During this planning process, the following recommendations for development were adopted in the 2017 Campus Master Plan:

  1. Using the entire Campus as a canvas (Outdoors and Indoors)
  2. Focusing on Storytelling and Context
  3. Making use of Traffic Patterns and View Corridors
  4. Investigating a wide range of Media to identify the most effective Medium for Storytelling
  5. Proceeding with Phased Implementation

At the time of this publication, the concept includes highlighting the main east-west campus to create a main storytelling axis, comprised of three main plazas.

Regarding storytelling, the university plans to focus on events and milestones that have impacted the growth and development of Texas A&M, rather than individuals. This storytelling axis builds on the existing north-south axis of Military Walk and complements other spaces such as Simpson Drill Field and Spirit Plaza (tradition focused).

Plaza 1 (Academic Plaza – Phase I) - The Early Years (1870 • 1900 • 1925)

  • Enabling State legislation (Senators Matthew Gaines and George T. Ruby)
  • State financial support decisions • Lobbying success of Lawrence Sullivan Ross and Edward Lavoisier Blackshear in securing financial investment from the State
  • Early building and growth under Ross, prior to 1900
  • Overcoming financial difficulties during the early 1900s
  • WWI and its aftermath

Plaza 2 (Area between Academic Building and Cushing Library – Phase II) - Growth and Transformation (1925 • 1950 • 1975)

  • WWII and its aftermath
  • Rudder Presidency- Transforming the University from a small land-grant college to a renowned university, making membership in the Corps of Cadets optional, the admittance of women to attend the university, Leading efforts to integrate the campus
  • First major research contributions in agriculture and life science with the Nobel Peace Prize (1970) to Norman Borlaug for enabling the “green revolution”

Plaza 3 (West Campus - Phase III) - Explosive Growth and Quality Advancement (1975 • 2000 • 2025)

  • Adding the Sea Grant and Space Grant designations to TAMU’s Land Grant designation
  • Development of the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan for TAMU
  • TAMU’s induction in 2001 to the American Association of Universities (AAU) as a Tier 1 Research Institution
  • Multiple nationally ranked Departments and Colleges
  • Expansion to other locations beyond College Station (e.g., TAMU at Galveston; TAMU at Qatar; College of Dentistry in Dallas; TAMU School of Law in Fort Worth; Texas A&M College of Pharmacy in Kingsville; Soltis Research and Education 31 Center in San Isidro de Peñas Blancas, Costa Rica; TAMU Higher Education Center at McAllen; and at the RELLIS Campus

Future plans - Further Growth and Quality Advancement (2025 • 2050 • 2075)

  • The Future of the University, a story still to be written...

Prior to construction, A&M's Task Force on Campus Historical Displays is requiring the following three actions must occur prior to providing a detailed phased plan with budgetary estimates and implementation details.

1. Professional Services for Architect and/or Landscape Architect for the development of proposed Concepts and Scenarios
2. Juried Competition for the development of Art Pieces and/or New Displays
3. A Historian to research and develop Storytelling Content (Note: TAMU faculty and Cushing Library may also be possible resources)

Currently, only about 30% of the art being displayed will be bronze statues of historical figures.

"To better position Texas A&M as a global leader in higher education, there is an opportunity for the University to select pieces and commission artists from diverse backgrounds to celebrate and acknowledge differing identities, values, and ideas.” the university wrote in their summary report.

These open plazas and gathering spaces will also incorporate shading and seating spaces to reinforce the space as a destination, while accounting for major access ways and pedestrian traffic patterns. The developments associated with each plaza will be retrospective, with recognitions of any individual’s contributions done posthumously.

For more details about the proposed campus renovations, read here.