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Zachry Engineering Education Complex: Rethinking engineering education

Texas A&M’s engineering school builds for future growth.

November 13, 2019 |
The zachry exterior

Once a four-story, precast concrete box, the Zachry has become a campus threshold and gateway. All photos: Randy Braley Photography

In 2013, Texas A&M University College of Engineering launched its “25 by 25 initiative,” whose goal is to more than double its enrollment to 25,000 students by 2025 without incurring significant infrastructure costs. All this while simultaneously creating a 21st-century engineering education model focused on technology-enabled learning, hands-on projects, and collaborative and multidisciplinary learning spaces.

The first step was the renovation and expansion of the old Zachry building, a 1970s-era precast box. The revivified structure, now the largest academic building on campus, has become a gateway that has added two five-story additions totaling 225,000 sf. Its common labs have open floor plans organized by themes rather than by standalone departments.

To make the building look like new construction, the project team, led by architect TreanorHL, removed the entire load-bearing precast concrete façade. Permanent steel framing was installed prior to removal, which eliminated the need for about 90% of temporary shoring. The team also reused 80% of materials from the original structure.


The atrium and staircaseThe atrium and staircase are activated by natural light, flexible seating, glass walls, and a skylight. 


Visual transparency into the learning studios, labs, maker spaces, and outdoor green spaces activates the building’s interior. A new central atrium connects a learning staircase and a 165-foot-long, 3,500-sf split-level skylight that runs down the atrium’s spine.

To support new ways of learning and instruction, the design team collaborated with a national furniture manufacturer to develop custom group tables whose monitors can be raised and lowered on demand. Users can switch between tables and displays to selectively share and display inputs from any point in the room, from distance learning, and via interactive touchscreens (T1V) in each learning studio. These components and concepts were tested in an offsite prototype classroom prior to installation.

The Zachry Engineering Education Complex received the Gold Medal Engineering Excellence Award and the Eminent Conceptor Award from the American Council of Engineering.



BUILDING TEAM TreanorHL (submitting firm, architect) Texas A&M University (owner/developer) JQ Infrastructure (SE, CE) Shah Smith & Associates (MEP) Coleman & Associates (landscape architect) Vaughn Construction (GC, CM) DETAILS 530,000 sf Total cost $171 million Construction time August 2016 to July 2018 Delivery method CM at risk

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