The U.S. National Park Service recently awarded $153,000 in
first-stage funds to help three Texas A&M professors and
their students begin developing a new multi-purpose auditorium
for the Malaquite Visitor Center at Padre Island National Seashore
near Corpus Christi, Texas.
Collaborating on this multidisciplinary two-year project are
Taeg Nishimoto, associate professor of architecture and Yilmaz
Karasulu, assistant professor of construction science, both from
the College of Architecture, and Ulrike Gretzel, assistant professor
with the Laboratory for Intelligent Systems in Tourism at the
Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences.
The design-build project, which specifies the use of innovative
construction techniques, is aimed at engaging students in designing
a new facility to be used as a multi-purpose room for park staff,
and as a vehicle for expanding the park’s unique visitor
and community contact experiences. Involved in each step of the
design process, the students, like park managers, will be asked
to strike a delicate balance between visitor use and the protection
the island’s unique natural resources and cultural heritage.
According to the terms of the agreement, the park service views
the auditorium initiative as a model for future building collaborations
with the university.
Padre Island National Seashore, encompassing 130,434 acres,
is the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of barrier island
in the world, and offers a wide variety of flora and fauna as
well as recreation.
Padre Island National Sea Shore scenery
(National Park Service photo)