As chair of TAMU Design Review Board
Woodcock guards spirit of master plan


Design approval of new buildings and other major projects on the Texas A&M campus is being guided by input from the university’s Design Review Board, chaired by David Woodcock, professor of architecture at Texas A&M.

“The board is charged with insuring that the spirit and intent of the campus master plan is maintained,” said Woodcock, former director of Texas A&M’s Center for Heritage Conservation and a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects, the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Association for the Preservation Technologies International. He was also recently appointed chairman of the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on Historic Resources.

Robert Gates, Texas A&M’s president in 2004 when the master plan was approved, outlined the intent of the plan in a letter accompanying the plan’s summary.

“This campus master plan will guide the development of our campus for at least the next half century,” he wrote. “It aims to give meaning to spaces and structures, to encourage and facilitate connectivity among people, place and programs, and to restore the aesthetic link between the heritage we inherit and the excellence to which we continually aspire.”

The board, said Woodcock, was set up to be the guardian of that spirit of the master plan.

“We’re trying to make sure that the areas in which we teach and live and work and play are as high quality as the university’s academic and research programs,” he said.

The board fulfills its duty by reviewing project design proposals on behalf of the university with the following intent:

  • Monitor and ensure that all design projects comply with the intent of the campus master plan, to interpret the plan and guidelines, and to recommend exceptions when appropriate;
  • Review and monitor proposed alterations and additions to existing buildings to ensure that the architectural and cultural significance of the original buildings are retained and enhanced in a manner consistent with the campus master plan;
  • Evaluate projects to ensure that they meet the highest qualitative standards; and
  • Recommend modification or development of the Campus Master Plan as required.

Two major projects the board has on its plate are the $110 million Memorial Student Center Renovation and the $15 million YMCA renovation.

The two buildings, said Woodcock, have both served the same function in years past. The YMCA was the center of social life on campus from its debut in 1914 until the MSC was built in 1952.

The buildings are nothing like each other physically, but there’s a strong connection between them in terms of function, he said.

Perkins + Will is designing the MSC renovation and Quimby McCoy, with firm principal Nancy McCoy, FAIA, who holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree from the College of Architecture, is designing the YMCA renovation.

The board was established in 2006 with Tom Regan, then the dean of the College of Architecture, as its chairman. Regan is now a professor or architecture at Texas A&M.

Most of the design review of three major building projects, the Interdisciplinary Life Science Building, the Physics Building, and the Emerging Technologies and Economic Development Building, all currently under construction, were done during Regan’s chairmanship.

The board has approved the design concept of the development of the $4 million military walk project, which is a historic 1,500-foot-long pedestrian greenway, and the $34 million Wellborn Road Grade Separation, two tunnels that will connect the main and west part of the Texas A&M campus underneath the barriers of Wellborn Road and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

Woodcock had been serving as the board’s co-chairman with David Godbey, interim university architect until Godbey’s death on Feb. 10. A search is under way for Godbey’s successor.

From the College of Architecture, Forster Ndubisi, head of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Glen Mills, head of the Department of Architecture, and Jacob Spence, president of the American Institute of Architecture Students, are serving on the board.


- Posted: May 5, 2009 -

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