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April 2016

Texas A&M Students Compete to Design Landmark Skybridge and St. Mary’s Neighborhood Plan

Collaboration between ECD and TAMU fostering compelling ideas in urban design and landscape architecture

A collaboration between Texas A&M University (TAMU) and The Energy Corridor District that began in 2014 continues to cultivate some captivating solutions in landscape architecture and urban design for The Energy Corridor.

Undergraduate and graduate students from TAMU’s College of Architecture are competing to design one of The District’s visionary ideas to create a powerful landmark for The Energy Corridor – and a statement about its commitment to walking and biking safely: a grand skybridge built to ferry pedestrians and bicyclists over a bustling Katy Freeway.

The winners for the competition will be selected by a jury board made up of transportation experts from The District’s staff, TAMU, the City of Houston, Texas Department of Transportation and Texas Transportation Institute.

But there’s more than one design challenge these students are taking on. Led by Dr. Jun-Hyun Kim, assistant professor of landscape architecture at Texas A&M, students have spent the winter designing a neighborhood master plan for the Threadneedle/St. Mary’s Lane area, where The District is headquartered.

TAMU students will present both visionary design projects to the jury board at 10 a.m. Friday, May 6, followed by the award ceremony. Both events are open to the public.

“The pedestrian bridge is an idea that arose when The District participated in a Livable Centers study several years ago,” explains Fabiana Demarie, who is facilitating the competition as The District’s urban planner. “The TAMU student design contest, with prize money at stake, is an opportunity to shape the look of a pedestrian and bicyclist bridge that will span Interstate 10. Such a bridge would do more than create safe passage for bicyclists and pedestrians. It would also become a placemaking initiative to provide The Energy Corridor with an extraordinary landmark.”

A pedestrian/bicyclist bridge would connect the neighborhoods, businesses and dining establishments north and south of IH-10, while providing easier access to the extensive trail system in The Energy Corridor, says Demarie. Already, the bridge has inspired ideas like moving sidewalks, air conditioned passage and even the addition of retailers and food vendors.

“The top entries will be considered in future development efforts by District officials,” said Dr. Kim.

For the St. Mary’s area, Dr. Kim’s students are charged with developing master plans that promote businesses in the area by implementing placemaking measures and developing streetscape design guidelines that enhance the quality of life for property owners, businesses, residents, employees and visitors.

Students combed the neighborhood in January, inventorying the site, mapping out structures and land use, and getting a primer in The District’s master plan, which seeks to make The Energy Corridor a premier place to live, work and invest.

For both design projects, the TAMU students are being guided by The District’s master plan principles.

“Dr. Kim’s students have always put a great deal of thought into developing forward-thinking designs and plans that are not only aspirational, they are inspirational,” says Clark Martinson, general manager for The District. “Some of the land use designs students created for the Addicks Park and Ride and Park Row area helped influence our master planning process.”

For Demarie, facilitating the St. Mary’s Neighborhood design project has brought her full circle, having been introduced to The District as a TAMU landscape architecture and urban design student who once presented ideas about rethinking the Addicks Park and Ride area. That effort led to an internship with The District, where she now spearheads urban planning initiatives.

The public is invited to experience the student presentations and award ceremony on Friday, May 6, commencing 10 a.m. at The District’s offices, 14701 St. Mary’s Lane, Suite 290.

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Get on Your Bikes and Ride… for Energy Corridor’s Bike to Work Day May 19
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Texas A&M Students Compete to Design Landmark Skybridge and St. Mary’s Neighborhood Plan
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