The east courtyard of the Texas Union survived as a stagnant plaza between buildings of different architectural characters, serving as a shortcut from the student housing of West Campus to the University’s West Mall. McKinney York was charged with creating an outdoor dining space that provides shade and welcomes patrons while maintaining circulation. A steel arbor accented with granite pavers provides a backdrop to the dining area, screens the adjacent building, and delineates a path through the space. The bubbling sound of a new fountain creates a focal point and provides white noise along with a psychological cooling effect. A trellised pavilion defines a place for large parties and special events. New paving, furniture, lighting, limestone planters and landscaping complete the revitalization. The spaces and their uses are defined by careful articulation of surface pattern, color, light and sound; refined subtlety is the key lesson of this project’s success.
Recognition: Honor Award, Texas ASLA, 2010