One of the most common first impressions we hear about St. Edward’s from students, faculty, staff and visitors is their love of our campus. This intrinsic connection to our hilltop home goes beyond our verdant location overlooking Austin’s city skyline. It’s inspired by a thoughtful blend of historic and contemporary buildings, majestic trees and open green spaces, tranquil gardens and fountains, abundant walking and biking paths, and comfortable gathering areas — all creating an atmosphere instilled with a sense of learning, community and place.
These defining qualities of the hilltop have been led by an ambitious campus master plan that guides us in preserving the beauty, character and sustainability of our urban campus. From 2001 to 2015, we accomplished more than 15 large-scale projects with significant success, including the addition of five residence halls, a dining hall, three academic buildings, a state-of-the-art library, four outdoor plazas and the planting of more than 1,000 trees. Sustainable renovations to five older buildings were completed as well.
The following three years (2016–2018) have brought another phase of activity. Renovations to two historic campus landmarks, Main Building and Holy Cross Hall, began in 2016 and were completed in 2017. The work included repairs to the roofing, windows, heating and cooling systems, limestone façade and towers for both buildings, and major renovations to the interior of Holy Cross Hall.
Important campus support services, such as the University Police Department and postal services, are now under one roof in a new operations building, which opened in 2017. And The Pavilions, a 133-unit apartment complex located in the heart of campus, opens in Fall 2018, providing housing for nearly 450 upperclassman students.
In 2017, St. Edward’s unveiled a new phase of updates to our master plan that will steer the anticipated growth and evolution of the university over the coming decades. For this transformative building and landscape project, St. Edward’s continues its partnership with Sasaki Associates, who worked with us to design and execute the original plan in 1999.
The purpose of our campus master plan is twofold. First, it outlines the types and number of new facilities required to support the university’s planned growth in undergraduate enrollment. Second, it provides direction to the orderly development of our physical campus.
Defined by the following four planning themes, the master plan establishes a structure for investment in campus land and facilities that reflects the academic mission, history and traditions of St. Edward’s.
Community ― and the St. Edward’s educational experience ― begins with engagement. The master plan ensures that indoor and outdoor spaces throughout campus help build community by encouraging diverse interactions and connections between students, faculty and staff.
Sustainability is a fundamental value held by St. Edward’s. The master plan takes a comprehensive approach to the physical environment, engaging mindful and strategic stewardship as a guide in harnessing the potential of all campus resources, both natural and built.
Comprehensive holistic well-being is a crucial component in the overall life of the St. Edward’s community. The master plan balances the needs of athletics and recreation with the concept that every place and space on campus contributes to the community’s awareness and practice of wellness.
The high standard of design excellence seen across the St. Edward’s campus speaks to the values and heart of the university. The master plan continues to create buildings and landscapes that foster strong bonds between people and place, and that reflect our relationship to the world around us.
The RCC expansion is the first key undertaking of the next phase of the plan, with an impact on recreation and holistic well-being for the entire campus community. The project will provide much-needed fitness space and support facilities. Students, faculty and staff will enjoy a spacious, contemporary fitness center featuring modern workout stations and equipment, and a wellness center with a lounge, seminar room and offices.
A contemporary two-story addition to the east facade of the RCC will include a second floor yoga and exercise studio surrounded by glass walls. This dramatic, all-glass structure — grounded by the solid brick base of the first floor — will appear transparent during the day and luminous at night. An open brick armature will extend east from the new first floor building and form the southern wall of a courtyard, which will be fully realized in subsequent phases of the master plan.
The two-story structure and armature will also create an inviting and attractive entryway to the RCC and enhance the view corridor along Andre Drive as visitors enter the campus. A plaza with outdoor seating will lead to the building’s entrance. Its design will support pedestrian activity and provide open gathering spaces in the campus core. Native landscaping will include indigenous plants and trees, and a lawn that can host small gatherings.
Groundbreaking for the RCC expansion will take place in 2019, with an open dated scheduled for 2020.
As St. Edward’s thrives and consistently gains national recognition, the university’s administration will continue to devote its best thinking toward the future of our campus. Our leadership has established a proactive, strategic and deliberate approach to growth, all aimed at meeting the ongoing needs and challenges of the university’s physical spaces. For our vibrant community, this means better learning, living, teaching and working on the hilltop.
Visit this webpage in the upcoming months to follow the progress on our campus improvements. We’ll share photos and updates to keep you informed.