Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Academic Mall

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Institution Name: University of St. Thomas
Original/Historic Place Name: Academic Mall
Location on Campus: bounded by W. Alabama, Yoakum, W. Main, and Mt. Vernon Sts.
Date(s) of Construction:
1957-2001original design and construction Johnson, Philip
Designer: Philip Johnson
Type of Place: Building group
Style: Modern/post-WWII (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
ca. 1957master plan (landscape)

Referring to his campus plan for the University of St. Thomas, the architect Philip Johnson said: "The master plan turns back to a more formal and more connected building, based somewhat on the model of Jefferson's University of Virginia, in order to give the campus a sense of community and cohesion." Johnson's master plan drew on Jefferson's Academical Village, which also featured buildings arranged along a central mall-like lawn. The modernist, rectilinear architecture shows echoes of Mies van der Rohe's buildings for the Illinois Institute of Technology, begun in Chicago in 1942. The Johnson design of the University of St. Thomas campus raised the architectural profile of the entire city of Houston, putting it on the map of international modernism.

The current condition of the Academic Mall is very good. The University recently completed phase one of structural repairs to the arcade and will complete phase two during the summer of 2004, to be followed by painting the entire arcade. The University remains very committed to protecting the Mall and associated buildings.


BGK Architects and H2L2. Revised Campus Master Plan. [BGK Architects, Austin, TX and H2L2, Philadelphia, PA], 2000.

"Chapel for St. Thomas University, Houston, Texas, 1991, Philip Johnson Architects." Zodiac no. 7 (March/August 1992): 34-[43].

"College Buildings: St. Thomas. First Units in the Fabric of a Closed Campus." Architectural Record 126 (September 1959): 180-82.

Dober, Richard P. Campus Planning. New York: Reinhold Publishing Corp., 1963. Reprint, Ann Arbor, MI: Society for College and University Planning, 1996.

Neuman, David J. Building Type Basics for College and University Facilities. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2003.

Welch, Frank D. Philp Johnson and Texas. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2000.


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