27 July 2006

Take me to the river

The Brackenridge tract on the shores of the Colorado River just west of campus is up for review by the Board of Regents. The tract is currently home to the Brackenridge Field Lab, a golf course, some university housing and a grocery store. An article in the Statesman revealed that when Brackenridge donated that land (500 acres in 1910), he intended it to be used for the main campus of the university. The Regents chose to expand the 40 acres instead.

It's interesting to imagine what the university would be like if it had moved to the land along the river. The ecology and culture would be completely different. For example, imagine sipping a beer at the Texas Union on a porch overlooking the water. Or, perhaps using a long break between classes to check out a kayak and scoot around the water. Maybe there would've been a swimming dock? Or faculty would commute by canoe from West Lake Hills? Though I love the 40 acres as much as the next person, the Regents' decision, in my humble opinion, was a poor one, particularly in relation to campus culture and ecology.

How much does ecology, natural setting and design affect culture and community? Interesting question.

Updates: new articles in the Daily Texan

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

think the urban setting in which the campus now sits probably provides a richer social and cultural life than if the campus had developed in the "country."
More importantly, the regents must ensure that the Brackenridge tract is preserved and retained by the University and not sold to the highest private bidder. It is an asset to both the institution and city; albeit, an asset with much unrealized potential for recreation and outdoor education.

Lee said...

definitely, the current setting inspires a greater connection with the state government and is more tied into the urban fabric of the city. yet the connection isn't as realized as, say, Madison, where a vibrant street directly connects the capital with the university. in Austin, the capital has it's back turned on the university...

plus, we do have waller creek, which is a small piece of "wildness" amongst the malls.

i agree too about the Brack Tract. We mustn't lose it. it's especially nice to have a piece of nature for science research so close to the university. I do wonder if they could mix that nature research agenda in with a recreational agenda? Bike/hike trails? Boat docks?

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