• Project Type Civic/Institutional

  • Location Austin, TX

  • Status Phase 1 Complete

  • Awards 2020 Texas ASLA Merit Award + 2021 AIA Austin Design Award of Merit

  • Collaborators McKinney York

The University of Texas – Student Activity Center

The redesigned Student Activities Center Courtyard responds to the needs of the students while protecting and ensuring the longevity of the large oak and pecan trees across the site.

The outdoor plaza sits between two of UT’s most frequently used buildings, the Student Activities Center (SAC) and Gregory Gymnasium. The design includes a series of outdoor rooms, one of which is a multi-level deck that sits under two large pecan trees. The deck is surrounded by airy, shade tolerant plants that enhance the space and give the users the feeling they are floating in a sea of plants. The freshly planted entryway to the SAC is full of native grasses and flanked with benches and planters that were adapted from the existing fountains. As one continues through the site the space opens up into an outdoor lounge, with a student-designed Nido Nest, a circular structure that holds up to 8 hammocks. Surrounding the nest are rain gardens, which will help to prevent the space from flooding like it had in the past. The rain garden plantings were carefully selected to be low maintenance, aesthetically pleasing, and provide a sense of enclosure while still allowing for visibility and safety throughout the space.