By Kit Johnson
Associate Vice President and University Architect
Master Planning & Construction Department
In March, the St. Edward’s planning team conducted a series of outreach sessions with students, faculty, staff and neighbors to share initial concepts for the latest campus master plan, a document that will guide the anticipated growth and evolution of St. Edward’s University over the next 10 to 20 years. We received significant feedback from our stakeholders and, on behalf of the entire team, we thank everyone who participated in this process.
During these sessions, we heard some expressions of agreement with the overall direction, some questions about initial concepts and a few objections from people who didn’t like a particular idea being considered. This diversity of input is to be expected in an effort as important as shaping the future of our campus. We’re studying all of this input to see what can be logically and logistically incorporated into the master plan to prepare for the changes ahead.
Like Austin and Central Texas, and like many of our peer universities, St. Edward’s must understand how to keep up with significant population growth and the evolving needs of the community. In these circumstances, change is inevitable, but I’m certain as any of our psychology professors will tell us we, as humans, are often resistant to change and view it as scary and difficult.
However, change can also be good. Change can bring us more walkways and bikeways with better lighting. Change can provide better buildings for teaching and learning. Change can place parking in better locations. Change can add more on-campus student housing, recreational facilities and retail. Change can plant more trees.
As the university’s architect, I lead a team responsible for devoting our best thinking toward the future of our campus. The university’s administration 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.
I trust everyone will continue to keep an open mind throughout this process, which will continue even after the Board of Trustees approves the new campus master plan, likely this fall. Once the plan is approved, there are more choices to be made, more plans to draw up and certainly more funding to be secured to make all of these important changes possible. In the meantime, look for more information about the campus master plan over the next several months.
We’re growing, thriving and (not-so-humble brag alert) consistently gaining national recognition. What does this all mean for our students? Better living, learning and teaching on the hilltop. View the video for a look at what’s ahead, and get more details below.
In August, construction began on a 133-unit apartment complex to be located in the heart of campus. This exciting addition to the hilltop will provide housing for nearly 450 students and allow St. Edward’s to guarantee on-campus living for freshmen and sophomores.
Surrounded by oak trees, the innovative design of this 184,000-square-foot facility includes four contemporary buildings connected by elevated walkways. The complex frames a large, central courtyard, and offers shaded pavilions where students can gather and study together. Each furnished apartment includes a full kitchen and easy access to laundry facilities. The units will be competitively priced and open for the Fall 2017 semester. Watch the video.
In 2016, improvements to two historic landmarks on campus will be underway, with a completion date set for August 2017.
Renovations to our iconic Main Building began in July 2016. The work includes repairs to the roofing, windows, interior spaces, limestone façade and central tower. Upgrades to the heating and cooling system were completed in December 2015. The successful Mabee Challenge grant supports repairs to Main Building. Read more about the challenge.
Holy Cross Hall also will receive needed repairs to the roofing, windows, masonry and interior spaces. Work begins on this classic building in December 2016.
Important campus support services are being brought together under one roof in a new operations building, scheduled to open in Spring 2017. This facility will be constructed in the northwest area of campus and will house the University Police Department, copying services, facilities and postal services.
These enhancements to the hilltop are led by a campus master plan that guides us in preserving the beauty, character and sustainability of our urban campus. Our hilltop home blends historic and modern buildings, tranquil gardens and open green spaces, abundant walking paths and comfortable gathering areas.
Recent projects completed under the master plan include construction of theJohn Brooks Williams Natural Sciences Center–South Building and
Munday Library, and renovations to the UFCU Alumni Gym and Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel with the new Brother Stephen Walsh, CSC, ’62, Campus Ministry Building.