Visualizing what could be

A&M students develop site plan for campus
supporting Bryan Christian outreach ministry

In spring 2004, Texas A&M architecture students developed site plans for a 19.6-acre campus for Save Our Streets Ministries (S.O.S.), an inner city Christian social outreach program serving the Bryan/College Station area.

The student designs, which include residential, educational and multipurpose facilities, picnic areas and sports fields, were unveiled at an April 26 public reception at the First Baptist Church of Bryan.

The proposed S.O.S. campus will be built on Groesbeck Road in Bryan, on land recently purchased by the non-profit organization. As part of its ministry, S.O.S. offers shelter, counseling and vocational training to young men and women who have struggled with drug abuse, gang involvement, poverty, sexual exploitation or physical abuse. The 10-year-old nondenominational program, which receives funding from many area churches, also offers worship services, Bible study, summer camps, and youth basketball programs.

With the purchase of the new campus site, the organization has grand plans for expanding its ministry. The S.O.S. vision, detailed on the organization’s Web site at, includes a men’s dormitory, vocational training facilities for air conditioning repair, plumbing and carpentry, a computer lab, job placement services, spiritual counseling and educational services.

The unveiling showcased site plans, programs, sketches and architectural models created by 14 two-student teams from an undergraduate design studio directed by George J. Mann, the Ronald L. Skaggs Professor for Health Facilities Design. Joseph J. McGraw, professor emeritus from the Department of Architecture, also served as an advisor on the student project.

To prepare for the project, the students met with S.O.S. volunteers and spent time with program participants and the program’s founder, J.J. Ramirez, a former drug addict and gang leader who has dedicated the last ten years of his life to helping others in crisis.

“The A&M students have caught the vision,” said Jim Thompson, S.O.S. community relations director, after viewing the students’ progress. “They have seen and felt our needs.”

Amenities included in the student designs include administrative offices, gymnasiums, classrooms, workshops, nurseries, multi-purpose facilities for recreation, performances, and worship services, outdoor sports fields, picnic areas, walking paths, and even swimming pools.

“The students have gone the extra mile in researching the best alternatives for developing the site in different phases,” Mann said. “They have selected the best materials for the buildings and have even developed plans for raising funds for their construction. It is a vision that Mr. Ramirez hopes to see fulfilled in the near future.”

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