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 Phillip Rollfing  

Best in Texas

A&M student’s transit center design
places first in state ASLA competition



A team from Texas A&M’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning earned first place honors in a spring 2005 design competition held in Austin by the Texas Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

The competition engaged teams from landscape architecture programs at Texas universities in a one-day charette. The teams included students, a faculty sponsor and a former student in practice. The Aggie team was composed of Yan Wang and Yan Long, master of landscape architecture students; Margarita Padilla and Amanda Stewart, fifth year bachelor of landscape architecture students; Tom Woodfin, a member of the LAUP faculty at Texas A&M; and Roberto Garcia ’83, a practitioner in Austin.

The competition, which began at 9 a.m. in a large meeting room in the Austin hotel, involved teams from the University of Texas-Austin, University of Texas-Arlington and Texas A&M University. The 20-acre competition site was part of the 600-acre Robinson Ranch north of Austin, the last large contiguous private land parcel in the north Austin growth corridor. The students were asked to create a “town center” at the intersection of a proposed commuter rail line into downtown Austin and two future highways. The Aggie team worked until 5 p.m., producing three 1:20 urban design plans of the city center, as well as sections of commuter rail/downtown park designs.

Judging the charette were the planning consultant team from Bosse and Compton and landowners from the area involved in the competition.

“I believe that our approach proved successful because we did three scenarios: the first, five years’ into the future with a town center and bus transit station before the rail is built, the second showed ten years’ growth, where the downtown city center has begun to grow with housing and mixed-use, and the third, twenty years’ into the future with the bus transit station converted to commuter rail and a fully-developed mixed-use downtown commercial and residential sector.

The A&M student’s downtown park, planned for the 100 percent corner at the two highways’ intersection, retained a small-town square sense of place as the community grew around it over time” Woodfin explained. “Roberto Garcia’s vision and the students’ enthusiasm at embracing a difficult design challenge were keys to the winning design. “

“Also,” Woodfin added, “our students’ ability to sketch quickly and communicate their ideas effectively made the finished drawings strong communications documents.

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Aggie drawing from the ASLA design competition

Aggie drawing from the ASLA design competition