One of the fastest growing community colleges in Texas, Tarrant County College (TCC) engaged Revery Architecture Inc. (Revery) to design its Trinity River East Campus in downtown Fort Worth, building on the firm’s earlier master plan for the city’s once-neglected urban waterfront. As a community-minded public institution, the College was keen to explore ways in which their new campus could be integrated as a way to improve the physical and urban environment of Fort Worth. In particular they realized that the campus could become a link between the downtown and the waterfront, thereby becoming a gateway to the Trinity Vision redevelopment project, ensuring a strong connection with the rest of the city.
Since downtown Fort Worth sits above a heavily forested bluff, the Trinity River was visually and physically disconnected from the city. Revery’s community-spirited approach to place-making turned this challenge into an opportunity for broader urban revitalization and strategically used the new urban campus to carve a cascading, landscaped plaza through the bluff, effectively forming an urban gateway that reconnects the city to the river via the new campus. The project’s extraordinary context required tremendous excavation along the 100-foot escarpment leading from the city down to the river. It also required temporary bypass and reconstruction of a federal interstate highway and extensive service rerouting.
Revery’s unique planning and design approach created a cluster of five contemporary campus buildings lightly nestled along the bluffs, flanking a central public pathway down to the river. This dynamic and transformative user experience (transitioning from frenetic urban context to calm, cloistered spaces) is enhanced by a series of shaded landscaped courtyards, water features and amphitheaters. A meticulous approach to building massing and orientation (limiting southern exposure) enabled Revery to leverage the hot and dry Texas climate and focus on microclimate design via the extensive use of regionally-appropriate landscaping, louvers at key locations on the exterior glazing and outdoor terraces, reducing glare and solar heat gain while preserving daylighting and views for the occupants. Despite the challenge of the local climate, tree canopies, shaded trellises, green roofs and natural evaporation from integrated water features collectively form a comfortable microclimate year-round, functioning as useful outdoor social and teaching spaces for the College and for the community as a whole.
By using the new urban campus to carve a pedestrian street that cascades through the bluff and down to the river, Revery’s innovative and award-winning urban campus not only realized Tarrant Count College‘s vision for a successful, urban, integrated downtown campus, it has also bolstered residential growth and social activity in the downtown core while improved access to trails and amenities promotes a more sustainable, nature-oriented urban living. Forming a picturesque link between the downtown and the waterfront, this project exemplifies how a student-centered and community-minded vision created a truly transformative campus that is appreciated equally by campus goers and the city’s urban community, subsequently augmenting interest for learning in the downtown core while enhancing TCC’s campus culture and elevating the College‘s standing within the broader community.