Baylor University – Speight Avenue Realignment and Albritton House Driveway
In an effort to accommodate Baylor University’s significant growth over the past decade, the University has methodically rebuilt portions of its campus to provide for current and future needs. A significant part of this effort has focused on the portion of campus near Speight Avenue and Third Street. This area was formerly comprised of single family residences, most of which were occupied by Baylor faculty. Over time, Baylor has purchased and demolished homes in area, demolished old streets, and provided an extension of Third Street between Speight Avenue and Bagby Avenue to provide improved traffic circulation through campus. However, several challenges remained.
Speight Avenue had a significant horizontal curve in front of the Albritton House, home of Baylor University’s President. Baylor desired to straighten out Speight Avenue to provide ninety degree connection with newly-constructed Third Street and provide a larger front yard for the Albritton House. Furthermore, access to the existing Albritton House driveway proved awkward and unattractive such that the University had previously prepared a conceptual plan that would dramatically enhance the driveway’s functionality and aesthetic appeal. Additionally, a long stretch of Speight Avenue was no longer necessary for traffic circulation, and the University wished to remove it to provide more room for future facility needs. Perhaps the most significant challenge involved with this project was the ambitious schedule; there were approximately six months to the project!
Walker Partners immediately went to work by performing topographic survey and preparing preliminary design drawings. During this effort, numerous items surfaced that had to be addressed, such as pedestrian circulation, parking lot reconfiguration, bus stop location and geometry, bike rack locations, existing utility relocations, storm drain design, pavement design, and signage/striping.
Though part of Speight Avenue was no longer necessary for traffic circulation, it was still crucial for fire department access. In order to provide an aesthetically pleasing solution, Walker Partners worked with the Fire Marshal to allow a porous, flexible pavement topped with grass sod, and lined with red reflectors to delineate the edges of the fire lane for easy identification. The demolition of this same stretch of Speight Avenue required abandonment of existing street Right-of-Way, which had to be coordinated and approved by the City.
While the construction project was scheduled to occur over the summer when pedestrian and vehicular traffic would be decreased, the project required significant coordination with numerous University and City departments in order to sequence the construction, protect the public, provide continuous access to the President’s house and adjacent buildings, and maintain emergency access.
The University provided a conceptual plan for the Albritton Driveway. Walker Partners retained a landscape architect to refine the concept and prepare design documents. Walker Partners coordinated with the University to ensure that the geometry of the driveway would accommodate the numerous vehicles that visit the President’s house while also avoiding numerous mature trees in front of the House. The final design is a spectacular combination of colored, stamped concrete pavement, wrought iron fencing, monument columns, tree lighting, street illumination, and over a dozen different species of plants, trees, and groundcover.
Walker Partners developed effective, attractive design solutions for all of these challenges, and well within the timeframe required to issue bidding documents. In addition, Walker Partners collaborated closely with Baylor University staff to select a contractor and administer construction in an expeditious manner, thus allowing the project to be completed before the beginning of the fall semester! Furthermore, this project has transformed this corner of campus. Not only is this area more functional, but it has become a visual landmark, attracting the attention of all who pass by.