With the ad hoc way institutions often grow, it’s not uncommon for perimeters to become prime real estate, which was the case for The University of Texas at Austin’s East Mall. But to fully leverage this resource, a strategic vision for the area was needed while also considering its role in the campus as a whole. Overland’s resulting master plan for the East Mall has brought the thoroughfare to life, making it not just a pathway but a destination.
The primary goal of the East Mall Master Plan was to draw campus life outside, activating open spaces and giving a sense of well-being to what was once a utilitarian tract. By creating spaces for courtyards, boardwalks, and secondary gardens, Overland planned natural ways for student life to spill outside, blending with the foot traffic to generate energy for those staying and community for those passing through.
Another goal was to give a fresh face to what would become the center of campus once the East Lawn speedway was constructed. Walker intended to turn the old fountain into a cascading stairway, and the modern faces of the new buildings worked in concert with his design to create a contemporary but contextual aesthetic. The ensemble has been transformational for the university, becoming a new heart of student life and learning and gateway to the east side of campus.