The University of Texas at Austin Master Plan

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Austin, Texas, USA
149 hectares/369 acres
1997

The University of Texas at Austin campus, as originally planned, was a majestic but humane academic community, well balanced among intellectual, social and recreational pursuits. Years of decentralized growth had eroded some of these qualities, resulting in a fragmented campus. The 1997 Master Plan, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and Balmori Associates, seeks to restore the grand ideal of the original campus, reversing the loss of community that occurred in later years.

Master Plans by Cass Gilbert in 1909 and Paul Cret in 1933—along with buildings by each—established the character of the campus. The 1997 plan, unlike the earlier ones, concerns the planned growth of a mature campus. It addresses issues of size and density unknown to the first planners and must be restorative as it steers campus development. This Master Plan is based on seven principles:

  1. Return the core campus to the pedestrian. Remove daily traffic and parking from inner campus streets, and eventually redesign them with more pedestrian-friendly surfaces, landscape elements, street furniture and lighting. Replace displaced parking spaces with parking structures. Restrict service traffic and establish separate bicycle lanes.
  2. Use the architectural language found in Paul Cret’s original plan and buildings for the design of new buildings. Do not imitate the architecture of these Beaux Arts buildings from the 1930s and 1940s, but use them as a point of departure for massing, scale, proportion, materials and building character.
  3. Establish a community of landscaped spaces which, together with buildings, extend and reknit the campus into a coherent and supportive academic community.
  4. Substantially increase on-campus housing to build and reinforce a sense of academic community.
  5. Establish new student centers to further establish a full and active life on campus. In addition, designate a new central axis to reflect the campus’s geographic center, which has shifted as the campus expanded.
  6. Concentrate near-future and immediate construction on the core campus rather than at its perimeter.