Brings Students Closer to the Landscape
The reimagined Zachry Engineering Building and adjacent E-Quad (Engineering Quad) is a new vibrant hub on the Texas A&M University (TAMU) campus. The Landscape Architects with Coleman & Associates converted a brownfield site of concrete, outdated structures and back-of-house structure uses into this new 3.25-acre campus green serving as a dynamic hub, facilitating opportunities for students to congregate, recreate, collaborate, study, dine and relax. The design of this distinct green space demonstrates the social and ecological benefits of sustainable landscape design. Unique details, from the design of custom lounging plinths to the inclusion of favorite mathematic formulas in the paving, exemplify the design philosophy of putting engineering on display. As the largest academic building on the Texas A&M campus, the Zachry Engineering Complex and Equad has set a new bar for experiential learning and formation of campus community in outdoor space.
The Landscape Architect was involved from initial master planning and programming through construction completion. Project design focused on the reimagining of the outdoor spaces that surround the 40-year-old Zachry building and the transformation of the adjacent brownfield site into a needed vibrant hub for this part of the Texas A&M campus. They also included generating studies and detailed coordination and collaboration with the art consultant and sculptor. Outreach contributions included participation as a guest lecturer in the TAMU College of Architecture and facilitation of a Zachry/E-Quad design charrette with the universities landscape architecture students, including hard-hat site visits to witness the process first-hand.
The direction of the project was to create a new campus green (the E-Quad) and to fully integrate the Zachry Engineering Complex in an outdoor experience with the purpose of facilitating exciting new ways for students to study, experiment, recreate, collaborate and relax. To achieve these goals, the Landscape Architect worked collaboratively with the client and the architects to ensure that the interior space and indoor programs were supported by, and in many cases extend into, the contiguous outdoor edges and spaces of the landscape. For example, the maker-space and fabrication lab is expanded and enhanced by a comfortable, flexible and casual outdoor space that enables the learning experience to take place outside and be on display for the campus community to appreciate.
The Landscape Architect envisioned a design philosophy of a new landscape for this once utilitarian part of campus and to actualize the dean of engineering's directive to create a unique and exciting indoor/outdoor hub for the student body. To achieve this, the team worked collaboratively with varied stakeholders to encapsulate this new landscape. It was critical to support this philosophy by designing a landscape that demonstrated the social and ecological benefits of sustainable designs in an urban context.
It is important to emphasize the architectural transformation, as the existing building was a dated exposed aggregate concrete structure, which was "fort-like" in appearance. The building was spectacularly re-imagined to become an inspiring structure that is open, inviting and elegant. The openness and dynamic solution of this architectural achievement informed the landscape design. This included a rooftop garden on the 4th level, overlooking University Avenue and the College Station skyline. Access to this rooftop garden is open to all students. The garden features native plants with a focus on pollinators, sited adjacent to well shaded and furnished outdoor spaces, ensuring comfort in the Texas climate.
As seen in LASN magazine, July 2021.