Campus Transformations at UT El Paso

An Ambitious Plan

Transforming an entire University campus from a sea of asphalt into a rolling natural landscape is a monumental task. The University of Texas at El Paso faced this challenge when they decided to restore the natural vegetation and arroyos to their hillside campus. All of the existing roads and parking were removed and replaced by new pedestrian walkways, bridges, and gathering spaces for students.

But this project was not limited to hardscape work. The project literally transformed the mountainside back into the natural Chihuahuan Desert landscape it had once been. Using old aerial photographs as a guide, the original arroyos, hills, and valleys were recreated and the natural vegetation restored. The project also replaced the campuses buried utilities and installed new site lighting, a campus wide outdoor WiFi network, and power distribution stations for special events such as music festivals. 

Team Coordination Using Modern Tools

Before the landscape work could begin, new underground utilities had to be installed in parallel with the existing ones. New hydronic piping, water lines, gas lines, medium voltage power and data duct banks were required. And all these utilities had to be coordinated with the new arroyos, the hardscapes, light poles, trees, and all of the existing buried utilities. It was an inter-firm coordination effort on a scale none of the project’s nine consultants had ever encountered. Matters were exacerbated by the fact that the highly specialized team members were located in three difference cities. As the complexity of the problem became clear, the team began to utilize on line file sharing and video conferencing to overcome new obstacles as they were discovered. The use of new coordination tools helped alert each team member in real time as problems arose. The result was that countless hours of redesign were avoided by all the firms involved.