Texas Southmost College students visited UT for Brownsville Project

Stephanie Adeline

Forty people filled the Goldsmith Hall Main Jury Room on Friday afternoon, all working to turn an abandoned rail corridor into a new city infrastructure.

Architecture students from the Texas Southmost College in Brownsville visited UT on Friday to present their pavilion designs for the West Rail Trail, an abandoned rail corridor in the city of Brownsville that will potentially be converted to a hike-and-bike trail. In addition to the students, many representatives from Brownsville, such as community activists and government officials, attended the presentation to provide feedback.

“(Coming to UT) helps us grow within our architecture perspective,” TSC architecture sophomore Cristian Solis said. “Now, we see how awesome UT is compared to what we have in Brownsville, and we learn a lot.”

The purpose of the visit was for a midterm review for a semester-long project by UT and TSC architecture students to redesign the corridor.

Prior to this project, the city was divided between converting the corridor into a toll road or a hike-and-bike trail. Students from the two institutions were assigned to propose designs for the trail, incorporating the two opposing sides.

TSC architecture sophomore Karina Alcala said the collaboration brings light to an important issue.

“Working with UT students will get more attention to the issue,” Alcala said. “Personally, we want a bike trail, but there are some people who want a road. I hope that (other people’s perspectives) will influence their decisions.”

The UT team consists of students from architecture lecturer Edna Ledesma’s class.

Ledesma said she is impressed with the TSC students’ work and the teamwork between the two institutions.

“Having gone through architecture school, I don’t think I could say that the stuff they were able to produce graphically was something I was able to produce after a year in school,” Ledesma said. “They’re essentially local experts, so they’ve been really helpful for my group.”

Architecture senior Mitch Flora, a student in Ledesma’s class, said working with TSC students provided him with a new perspective regarding architecture.

“Their project right now is looking at pavilions, and something like that can easily transform into a real project that the city can build,” Flora said. “It’s exciting to see a group of students be so rooted in the community and rooted in actually making change through their studio classes.”