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Centennial Plaza | Photo courtesy UTEP
Centennial Plaza | Photo courtesy UTEP

International Group Honors UTEP’s Campus Transformation

The Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) recently announced that The University of Texas at El Paso’s Campus Transformation/Centennial Plaza project earned its top award for Excellence in Landscape Architecture.

The organization will present its most prestigious award to UTEP officials on July 12, 2016, during the group’s annual international conference in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Greg McNicol, UTEP associate vice president for business affairs – facilities management, said the University was honored to have been recognized for this successful, once-in-a-lifetime project that has had a positive impact on UTEP students and employees.

The most significant piece of the Campus Transformation effort is the spectacular Centennial Plaza that officially opened April 18, 2015.

centennial-plaza

The 11-acre oasis in the center of campus is composed of a large grass oval surrounded by wide multi-textured walking paths, shade trees, drought-resistant shrubs, concrete benches, water fountains, rock-strewn arroyos and a 130-seat amphitheater.

“We reclaimed this space from parking lots and unusable slopes and returned it to the campus and the community,” McNicol said as he fingered through a 10-page nomination form sent to SCUP with maps, renderings, descriptions and before-and-after plaza photos. “Now it’s part of who we are – a campus in the Southwest.”

SCUP organized in 1965 and is made up of higher education leaders from around the world. The group seeks to integrate planning to benefit the physical campus and the professionals who work there. Its first Excellence Awards were presented in 2000 and interest in them has grown steadily.

campus2Judges for this year’s juried competition considered such aspects as storm water design, sustainable design, and design for transportation or infrastructure.

Their comments included “great transformation space for pedestrians,” “before-and-after descriptions were very compelling,” “Site plan says it all. Acres of asphalt paving and parking in the before photo,” and “Really like this one, I think it’s a winner.”

This is the second honor for the Campus Transformation project. The Texas Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture presented UTEP with its 2015 Texas Gold Leaf Award during the annual Texas Tree Conference luncheon Oct. 1, 2015, in Waco, Texas.

More than 700 trees of 24 varieties were planted on campus for the project.

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