Moody Plaza remodel needs community input

Emily Caldwell

Gregory Gym Plaza offers a place for students to order from food trucks, read under the shade of trees and study on long picnic tables. It doesn’t have to be the only place on campus like this. If done correctly, the Moody College Plaza redesign has the potential to become another student hub on campus.

The Moody Plaza — located off of Whitis Avenue near the intersection of Guadalupe and Dean Keeton on the northwest side of campus — will undergo a major remodel in the upcoming years. This project would impact student access to the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center (CMA) and the William Randolph Hearst Student Media Building (HSM), and might hinder students' commutes. For this remodel to be worth the construction and trouble, it has to be a functional and student-friendly space. Students have the power to make this happen. 

The plaza remodel is in its early stages. Moody intends on incorporating UT student, staff and faculty feedback as much as possible throughout the decision-making process. 

“There is no project yet, so it’s literally, like, ‘OK, this is something we’re going to do, so let’s figure it out,’” said Natalie England, communications manager for the Moody College of Communication. Because this project is still developing, it’s crucial for students to offer ideas about accommodations, layout and furnishing preferences now when their voices can still be considered. 

In an email, Dean of Moody College Jay Bernhardt said UT’s Project Management and Construction Services and the Moody College of Communication are working together with McKinney York Architects to develop a conceptual design for the Plaza. 

According to England, Bernhardt acknowledges that this is a great space and it should be a resource for everyone. Bernhardt has already held one meeting with project officials and the UT community to receive input on the conceptual designs. 

Officials on this remodel project are trying to get the word out to students — at the very least to the 4,460 undergraduates and 481 graduate students within Moody College. England said they’re looking to involve the UT community before this project is finalized. Students are being offered the rare opportunity to impact design decisions before plans become finalized. It’s our responsibility as students to meet planners halfway and weigh in on plans. 

If we don’t voice suggestions and reservations, we won’t receive a plaza we’ll want to spend time in. We will deal with construction and commuting detours without ever reaping the desired benefits. However, with our input, this construction project will run much smoother and align with students’ needs. If we make the effort to take part in the decision-making process, this project could create a groundbreaking social and academic gathering space for students. 

As of right now, Moody and McKinney York Architects are deciding the next steps, England said. Students should stay curious and involved in the project’s development and look out for any updates from project officials concerning the future remodel. 

It’s not often that students are asked for input on a large-scale project such as the Moody Plaza. Rather than eventually complaining about a project that never ended up benefiting students, we can use our voices now to push for the best possible end product. We owe it to the University and ourselves.

Caldwell is a Latin American studies and journalism sophomore from College Station.