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President David E. Daniel

April 2014

 

Enriching the Total College Experience, Campus Enhancement Continues

As I look out my office window, there's no mistaking that the north end of the campus mall is in a bit of upheaval – but for a very good reason.

Renovation is under way as part of the University's Campus Landscape Enhancement Project, led by landscape architect Peter Walker.

A "before" picture and an "after" artist's rendering shows what is planned for the upper mall, looking north from the Founders Building. View more images

Construction crews have broken up the old concrete areas of the mall, from the Administration Building to the trellis just outside the Eugene McDermott Library. Heavy equipment, large trucks, road flaggers and plenty of hard hats on site let us know that the project is on track.

The eventual goal for the yearlong project is a greener, park-like environment for the north part of campus.

Students who are upperclassmen enjoy a very different campus than when they arrived as freshmen. In 2010, we dedicated the first phase of the campus mall redesign, made possible through a generous gift from a longtime University supporter.

Hundreds of magnolia trees, five reflecting pools, and a Trellis Plaza now grace the mall, complementing an award-winning Visitor Center and Student Services Building to the south end of the mall and the new Edith O'Donnell Arts and Technology Building just adjacent to McDermott Library. Now it's time to tackle the rest.

UT Dallas' classroom and research buildings on the north campus mall were built in the Brutalist architectural style, popular on college campuses in the early 1970s. The off-white, precast concrete structures, functional and stark, were surrounded by hundreds of square feet of pea-graveled pavement punctuated by metal drains. That solid concrete path is now gone. Walker's plan will reduce the hard surfaces by half, providing grassy terraced areas, elm groves and tree-lined paths.

We want to enhance the total college experience for our students – in and out of the classroom. This redesign will give students outdoor space in which to breathe and think, to continue the classroom conversation, process what they're learning, and enjoy just being with their friends.

Until then, most of us are navigating the construction area via the indoor skywalks that connect the oldest buildings on campus. It's a bit inconvenient in the short term, but the payoff will serve generations to come.

This renovation is not the only project under way on campus. By this fall, UT Dallas plans to have a new 600-bed student housing complex, a 108,000-square-foot expansion of the Naveen Jindal School of Management and a second covered parking structure with 15,000 feet of retail space. Construction is also expected to be in progress on a new bioengineering and sciences building.

A year from now, the view from my office will be quite different. Bearing with this year's construction sounds and sights will be worth it when the entire campus reflects the quality of academic interaction going on inside our buildings.

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About This Newsletter

The President's Viewpoint is a periodic newsletter distributed to a select group of alumni, friends, faculty and staff. It comes from the desk of Dr. David E. Daniel, president of The University of Texas at Dallas, and provides the ultimate insider’s view on the news and concerns of the University.