Texas Tech wins Green Star Award for R07 renovation.
Pristine concrete walkways, flower beds exploding with color, outdoor seating, and more than 100 trees shading generations of Texas Tech University students from the harsh West Texas sun are just a few features of the recently renovated R07 parking lot and pedestrian mall.
The intended purpose of the refurbishment was to increase safety on campus in the area between the Student Union Building (SUB) and the Administration building. However, these details have earned Texas Tech recognition for more than safety. The Professional Grounds Management Society has honored the R07 renovation with the prestigious Green Star Award.
“The talent and tenacity of the grounds maintenance team is, in my opinion, unmatched,” said Bill Alding, the architect responsible for the conceptual design of the pedestrian mall. “This project shows their ability to produce an extremely attractive and significant new campus landmark.”
According to the society's website, the annual Green Star Awards Program brings national recognition to grounds maintained with a high degree of excellence. The program complements other national landscape award efforts that recognize outstanding landscape design and construction and salutes the grounds superintendent responsible for maintaining a well-manicured landscape year-round.
“The university and our grounds team are competing with other sites across the country,” said Charles Leatherwood, senior managing director. “We have won several of these awards against other areas that have more suitable climates than we do here in West Texas. I am very proud of our team at the university and what we have accomplished.”
Although the cosmetic improvements are welcome updates, safety was the most prominent concern. Along with providing a safety corridor from the SUB to the Administration building, the new construction boasts improved drainage systems, outdoor seating and updated lighting for increased visibility after nightfall.
“The perimeter seating and landscaped areas along the pedestrian mall were provided as gathering spaces for students, faculty, visitors and staff,” Alding said. “These pockets of repose are very significant to the overall welcoming and accommodating character of the concept.”
Alding's watercolor sketches served as a vision for what the new pedestrian mall would look like and generated interest and support for the project across campus. However, Alding acknowledges the group effort it took to elevate the concept from paper to parking lot.
“President (Lawrence) Schovanec was the engine who created this wonderful addition to the historic portion of our campus,” Alding said, “and there was a lot of talented input from many parties into the design and development of this project.”
For this team, the Green Star Award is more than recognition for the tireless work the grounds crews put into keeping the campus beautiful among the arid West Texas landscape. It is a reminder of the positive impact they make every day.
“I take pride in the work that I do here on the Texas Tech campus,” said Jeff Burns, assistant director and primary inspector. “To be nationally recognized for something I am part of helps me feel like I am making a difference.”
Burns is not alone in his pridefulness. His colleagues share how meaningful it is for their work to not only be recognized nationally, but also to have the trust and support of Texas Tech behind them during the renovation process.
“It gives me pride and a sense of accomplishment in what landscape upgrades we are providing on our campus,” said Don Roulain, assistant director responsible for design and financials. “It is a great feeling of trust and support for our department to be tasked with a project of this size and to be able to make such a great addition to our campus.”
The R07 parking lot and pedestrian mall is a shining example of the way Texas Tech finds innovative ways to care for its students, faculty and staff, providing a physical reminder that even down to the concrete, Texas Tech is always investing in its people.