On January 28th, 2019 Texas A&M University Central Texas Campus (TAMU-CT) will open it’s newest academic building, Heritage Hall. As landscape architect for the design, Asakura Robinson is thrilled to take part in celebrating the grand opening.
TAMU-CT was founded in 2009 on land donated to Texas A&M by the US Army. Adjacent to the Fort Hood military base, TAMU-CT primarily serves non-traditional students, 40% of whom are active duty military personnel or veterans. In addition to the campus’ relationship with the military, the site’s unique location at the edge of Texas’ hill country reveals several remarkable environmental and ecological features for the region. In fact, the rolling hills and karst terrain host the Golden-cheeked Warbler, an endangered species that nests only in Texas.
With a growing student body, the campus has made significant efforts to expand the campus and facilities. Designed by collaborating architects, Lord Aeck Sargent and Harrison Kornberg, Heritage Hall will serve as a multi-purpose building that provides office space for administration personnel, instructional science labs, a fitness area and faculty research facilities. Asakura Robinson worked closely with the architects and the client to develop a signature landscape design and natural learning environment to support outdoor classes, academic collaboration, and socialization, while also integrating the site into the larger composition of the campus and ecoregion.
The final design builds off of the institution’s core values and campus vision featuring a welcoming entry plaza and outdoor amphitheater that can host lectures and more formal academic gatherings.
An overall campus identity is achieved through visual continuity with locally-sourced masonry that matched the building facade. At the front entry plaza, students, faculty, and staff are greeted with a clone of Austin’s Treaty Oak – a 500 year old tree that was used as a meeting place by the Comanche and Tonakawa tribes. Careful attention was given to ensuring wifi availability, power outlets, and dramatic lighting to ensure the space would be attractive to students and staff.
Recognizing the environmental sensitivity and significance of the landscape, the design utilizes a combination of a native plant species as well as natural area restoration plan. The plant palette includes a number of drought resistant species, many of which are found in the hills surrounding the building.
Because the building required such a large staging area, Asakura Robinson partnered with Native American Seed Company to develop and implement a natural area restoration plan that included excavating road base used for heavy equipment, scarifying the underlying soils, and distributing a native seed mix with a tractor and spreader. Woody species such as Texas Persimmon were then planted in the restoration area to provide food and cover for wildlife and blur the line between the developed campus and adjacent natural areas.
We are privileged to have had the opportunity to collaborate with the client and consultant team and we look forward to watching students use the new building in the Fall 2019 semester!