Austin Trip – Texas A&M Landscape Architecture

Texas A&M Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning

Since I stepped back from the marketing field and stepped into the world of communal living, sustainability and permaculture – I’ve considered going back to school for a higher education related to these topics so I can better share them with others (while making a living).

So I contacted Shannon S. Van Zandt at the department of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning within the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University, and we scheduled a day to meet with faculty members, Eric Bardenhagen and Galen D. Newman, so I could learn more about the programs and which would be best for me! (Many, many thanks to everyone!)

I arrived at the Ernest Langford Architecture Center at Texas A&M that morning and first met with Eric Bardenhagen on the studio floor where I would spend most of my time as a student.

I’ve included some links to online resources which recap most of the standard topics we discussed:

Master of Landscape Architecture


On my way up to meet Eric, I came across several models and renderings made by students, which I thought were pretty great!

This model in particular was that of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘The Robie House,’ built by two students featured on the main floor of the building.

Not far from the FLW model was this wooden artistic model of the geographic location of the college buildings and the various pathways students can take academically! It’s kind of mind-blowing to think about it all encompassed into one piece made from a tree!

After I went up the stairs to the second floor and came across these landscape architecture posters, highlighting designs like park nativescaping, natural parks, planned development gardens, and even Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park!

The landscape architecture posters on the other side highlighted other projects like the Kyle Field renovation, a public city plaza, and even an international large-scale park!

Eric and I talked about the landscape architecture program and certificates, his personal experience and background, and some of the other programs like urban planning and land development.

After our conversation, he took me on a tour around campus. We went downstairs to the 3D printing startup lab and I got to see the stacks of printers and some of the various projects students have made in the printing labs – from propellers to architectural models!

We then strolled outside of the 3D printer startup lab and Eric showed me a vertical garden one of the faculty members is working on. If this panel is successful, two more additional panels will be added next to this one to fill out the building wall!

After we continued our walking tour around the university campus, we hoped into Eric’s car and drove to the Dr. David E. Schob Nature Preserve Park. This preserve serves as a living laboratory for many students, as well as a site for grant-funded student projects are implemented.

“A nature preserve just two miles from the Texas A&M campus, a gift to the university from David E. Schob, a beloved history professor who died in 2007, has been transformed into a permanent, “living” classroom that landscape architecture and park and tourism sciences students will use for design and research projects.” — ArchOne eNews Webpage

Past the entrance, Eric pointed out a few experimental sights and signage – which were hard to see with most of the overgrowth – until we got to the preserve boardwalk. He explained to me the purpose of this boardwalk was for students to get hands on construction experience and see how various woods look and function exposed to nature for future planning purposes.

This is a glimpse of the preserve rain garden, which is designed with native plants to attract pollinators and other native inhabitants to create a diverse ecosystem!

Once we wrapped up at the Schob Nature Preserve, we met up with Galen at Hopdoddy Burger in a new commercial section of College Station near campus and had burgers for lunch!

I said goodbye and thanked Eric for his time after lunch at Hopdoddy, and then went with Galen towards the horticultural science buildings and the new on-campus learning gardens!

Below is the horticultural science building with a greenhouse on the second level, out of view to the left are several free-standing greenhouses used by students and staff.

Galen and I walked around the campus greenhouses next to the on-site parking lot bioswale. “Bioswale is the name for a shallow, marshy ditch that can filter stormwater runoff. You often see bioswales near roads in College Station and Bryan. Plants and porous soil keep pollutants from flowing into waterways harming wildlife, and creating a hazard for people.”

Across the street from the bioswale is The Gardens at Texas A&M University!

“Tucked away on West Campus is a 27-acre plot that is home to The Gardens at Texas A&M University. The Gardens serves as an outdoor classroom for faculty and staff to teach students and the public valuable concepts about food production, landscape beauty and the natural environment. The Gardens is also a peaceful sanctuary on campus, a place where everyone at Texas A&M and the surrounding community can relax, enjoy and learn.” — The Gardens at TAMU Webpage

This is a picture of The Gardens entrance, complete with rustic signage and windmill!

A picture diagram of the Leach Teaching Gardens map.

This portion of the garden is the Texas Master Gardeners Earth-Kind Garden, an approach that uses research-proven techniques to maximize garden efficiency while preserving and protecting the environment.

Here is a picture of the fruit tree orchard and the Center-Pivot Irrigation System, which waters the food and fiber fields!

This section of the gardens is the Harriet and Joe B. Foster ’56 Maroon and White Garden in front of The Pavilion, near the center of the gardens.

After we walked through the learning gardens, we rounded the horticulture buildings to one of the older onsite raised bed gardens. In addition to the beds, this site also features a pavilion and a student farmstand in the back!

Here’s a better view of the student farmstand, which was not very active since it was out of season for most produce.

On the far side of this garden were more raised beds, next to a plant covered walk way separating the side raised beds.

Once we finished up in the gardens, Galen took me to check out the university’s recreation center since I was curious to see it. The building is massive, and what was more impressive than the large rock climbing tower was the number of racquetball courts in the middle of the complex!

Here’s a picture of the Olympic-sized pool where the swim competitions are held, and the diving boards are against the far back wall.

Galen and I parted ways after we caravaned over to the center of campus so I could see the student center and the renovations to Kyle field. This is a picture of a 3D printed braille Texas A&M map made by one of the students that sits at the entrance of the Memorial Student Center building.


In case you’ve never heard of Texas A&M, their mascot is a Rough Collie named “Reveille—or Miss Rev, as she’s known on campus… She has reigned as the First Lady of Aggieland since 1931” — Reveille TAMU Webpage

In the campus gift shop is a large stuffed version of Reveille near the checkout line for pictures!

This is also a picture across the street from the Memorial Student Center building of the newly renovated Kyle Field Football Stadium!

I killed enough time walking around the center of campus until I could meet my high school friend, Chad Kacir, who went to and works at TAMU, over at Northgate (the local bar scene.)

Northgate has been around for many, many years – even my mom and dad have fond memories of this strip when they went to college there!

The Dixie Chicken is a popular touristy bar and restaurant, so on the advice of my friend Chad, we avoided this place and their over-priced drinks.

We wound up at a bar not too far down from where we met up and had a few beers. Inside the bar was a giant mural of the Aggie ring, which has been tied to the “Ring Dunk” – the christening of a new Aggie ring in a pitcher of beer and chug the 60 ounces!


While I was looking at colleges in high school, I went to Texas A&M University – and I got a weird vibe and the excessive traditions turned me away from considering it for my undergraduate degree. So I wound up going to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, so I have “some” loyalty to Tech over A&M.

However, it had been close to 8 years since I visited the A&M campus (WOW!) and it looked completely different when I visited this time and I got to see where I would be for the 3-year program if I chose the landscape architecture pathway, so I had a better experience this time around. And getting to meet with faculty about the program that I would be learning from also shed some light on the school as well as options within the career field.

Overall I have to say I’m really considering the Landscape Architecture program at TAMU because of the school’s reputation, expertise, graduate student opportunities, and the program specialties/certifications offered that would put me in a professional career path utilizing aspects of what I really enjoy about permaculture, sustainability, and community – overall ‘space to place’ making!



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