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TCC coming to Downtown

Downtown Trinity River Vision Modern Architecture Construction Photographs Tarrant County

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#51 renamerusk

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Posted 03 September 2004 - 11:27 AM

Question? Does downtown Fort Worth need more liberal arts students

I suppose that the question I posed could be viewed as sarcasm. It was not entirely my intention to be seen in that way. I in no way mean to belittle the study or the importance of a liberal arts education.

Downtowns are often described as CBDs or Central Business Districts. Typically, but not exclusively, these centers of commerce are in greater need of workers who have expertise in financial and business fields and less in need of workers with a liberal arts degree. It then seem more logical to me that TCC would be addressing the needs of the CBD market and establishing a small specifically tailored business center, as it does seem that the private market is doing with the recent announcement of campuses for DeVry, eg. instead of a full fledge college campus. To be truthful, I do not know whether or if TCC has done an analysis of the market and determined that downtown does truly need a place where foreign languages, music, history, English, etc are being taught in the core business district. Yes, more foot traffic is desirable for downtown, but an more effective use of tax dollars to put the resources where they are needed is even more desirable. If TCC were establishing a criminal justice learning training center to compliment courthouse complex, then I might be persuaded of their plans. Tarrant County has several employment centers which TCC could be an integral part of in the training of the workers by being in these places and being conviently located for the workers to access -the medical district, the alliance region and the Arlington entertainment corridor comes immediatley in mind. I simply feel that a liberal arts venue would be more suitable in the cultural district than in the central business district.

#52 redhead

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Posted 03 September 2004 - 02:48 PM

I respectfully disagree. The major employment base in the CBD, not the Cultural District. What better way for adult students to better themselves than to be able to attend evening classes within blocks of their employment? I also think the bulk of the courses that will be taught at this campus are accounting, finance and business---all considered in the "arts" since most businesss degrees are BA's.

I went to night school (eons ago) and it was indeed proximity that made it possible. I think that by placing themselves within a close distance to the largest concentration of employees is brilliant---not to mention that many of these larger employers have tuition reimbursement programs for courses that are job-related. Indeed, my past employers paid for the bulk of my education and got to write it off. What a win-win deal!

#53 mosteijn

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Posted 03 September 2004 - 04:20 PM

I suppose that the question I posed could be viewed as sarcasm. It was not entirely my intention to be seen in that way. I in no way mean to belittle the study or the importance of a liberal arts education.

Actually, I viewed it sort of as NIMBYism... :o

#54 Buck

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Posted 05 September 2004 - 09:02 PM

UTA-Fort Worth is primarily a business and technology center and will bring more of the same courses to whatever it plans downtown with TCC.

#55 normanfd

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Posted 06 September 2004 - 12:12 AM

I intended sarcasm and a jab at El Paso. I fully support the downtown campus concept. El Paso is the closest major city to where I live. El Paso is a city with a population similar to Fort Worth's, but with only limited and mediocre educational opportunities nearby. In smaller stores there, it is common to be asked matter-of-factly if you'll be paying with food stamps before your checkout, because such a huge proportion of the population uses that medium to pay and because computerized registers that distinguish between food and other purchases are less common. I don't wish such a backward economy upon Fort Worth.

#56 renamerusk

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Posted 11 September 2004 - 10:29 AM

Question? Does downtown Fort Worth need more liberal arts students?


Answer: Yes. It would benefit the city to have a greater share of the population with a solid, well-rounded education. A greater number of students downtown each day should help further increase the share of young people downtown and build on the existing vitality here.

I am not opposed to a presence in downtown by TCC. It is just my humble opinon, that it is the right idea in the wrong place.

Just this morning, I watched an PBS documentary about the wonderful historical courthouses of Texas. We are fortunate to have one of them. I think that the Tarrant County Courthouse Square (TCCS) should be protected against boards(TCC) who seem to be arrogant and unaccountable for their decisions.

I understood that the blocks east of the courthouse would be the site of a new criminal courts building; and hopefully would give difference to the courthouse as does the new civil courts building.

Would it be more cost effective if TCC and the County built and shared both the new civil courts building and the planned criminal courts building. Classroom space could be allocated in the planned criminal courts building. Just something to kick around. Something that taxpayers and preservationists might appreciate.

"Keep Fort Worth Folksy!"

#57 mosteijn

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Posted 11 September 2004 - 11:42 AM

I am not opposed to a presence in downtown by TCC. It is just my humble opinon, that it is the right idea in the wrong place.

Why? What's wrong with the proposed location?

#58 John T Roberts

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Posted 11 September 2004 - 11:43 AM

Just this morning, I watched an PBS documentary about the wonderful historical courthouses of Texas.  We are fortunate to have one of them.  I think that the Tarrant County Courthouse Square (TCCS) should be protected against boards(TCC) who seem to be arrogant and unaccountable for their decisions.

I understood that the blocks east of the courthouse would be the site of a new criminal courts building; and hopefully would give difference to the courthouse as does the new civil courts building.

Would it be more cost effective if TCC and the County built and shared both the new civil courts building and the planned criminal courts building.  Classroom space could be allocated in the planned criminal courts building.  Just something to kick around.  Something that taxpayers and preservationists might appreciate.

Rename, one might argue that the Tarrant County Courthouse Square is so compromised that there is nothing left to protect other than the Courthouse building itself. The block to the north once had a smaller Paddock Park with structures toward Houston and Commerce Streets, one of which was the original county jail. Those buildings have been demolished. To the northwest, there is Heritage Park and the Criminal Justice Building (1918). The Criminal Justice Building is certainly worth preserving. To the west are the law offices and Texas de Brazil. Both of those buildings are the remains of what was the start of Leonard's Department Store and are around 100 years old, but the facades have been altered so much, you can't really recognize these are historic buildings. To the southwest is the Worthington Hotel, not historic. On the south, only one historic building remains, and that is Joe Daiches Jewelers. This building is worth saving and preserving. Other structures on the south are new. Over on the east, 114 N. Commerce was the only historic structure there, but it was recently demolished. Finally, on the northeast are the law offices and the Workmen's Hotel. Both of these are historic buildings, but the law offices have an altered facade. On the Courthouse grounds itself is the Civil Courts Building, which should have never been constructed at that location. It will be replaced. The new Civil Courts Building is scheduled to go up east of the Courthouse. However, if it were combined with TCC, there would be a good chance the building would be taller than the roof of the Courthouse building. Both the city and the county have expressed interest to preserve the view of the Courthouse dome from the east, so construction of anything tall would be unlikely.

Yes, the preservationists want to keep the historic buildings around the square, yet I also think that quite a few wish to keep the views of the Courthouse preserved as well. I know that some of you feel that we don't need height restrictions in downtown, but I do think that certain views of the Courthouse should be preserved by limiting the heights of buildings located on certain blocks.

I think that TCC can design a series of buildings that provide an urban campus, yet limit the height of the buildings to preserve the views of the Courthouse. I also feel combining court buildings and college students would not be a good mix. Keeping the uses separate and on different properties will allow Tarrant County and TCC to increase the density of the built environment downtown by having more blocks with buildings on them, yet keeping the height down to allow views of the Courthouse.

#59 mosteijn

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Posted 11 September 2004 - 11:50 AM

What if there was a height limit of 5 floors on every block adjacent to the Courthouse, and the same limit on all the blocks between Belknap and Weatherford (although the jail and justice center have already blocked some views from the west). If a building is proposed on another block somewhere else that compromises certain views of the Courthouse (such as the view looking down the Trinity), it could be handled on a case by case basis.

#60 JBB

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 10:21 AM

Surprised no one has posted this yet. We'll have some more answers on Friday.

TCC eyes TXU plant site for new campus

By Sandra Baker

Star-Telegram Staff Writer


FORT WORTH - Tarrant County College is expected to announce Friday that it is buying the site of an abandoned TXU power plant downtown for a campus that will span the Trinity River, sources said Tuesday.

College administrators have been working to secure land for a downtown campus for months. This year, they bought nearly 7 acres on the south side of the river, near the Tarrant County Courthouse.

On Friday, TCC officials will talk about the recent acquisitions and display a model of the campus at a gathering on the north side of the Trinity River levee, east of the Main Street bridge, where part of the new campus will be built.

A TXU spokesman said Tuesday that the company, as a matter of policy, does not discuss land sales but confirmed that TXU officials will be at Friday's ceremony.

A TCC spokeswoman declined to comment, saying an official announcement would be made Friday.

In August, TCC board members agreed to set aside $33 million to develop a 35-acre campus by fall 2007. It would cover about 500,000 square feet and ultimately cost about $100 million, they said.

Chancellor Leonardo de la Garza has said the new campus would provide continuing-education classes, career and technical programs, and college-credit courses that would transfer to four-year universities.

"This is a 100-year decision," de la Garza said in February. "We don't necessarily have to make an architectural statement, but we need to take advantage of this opportunity."

The publicly funded campus would be a prime resident of the area included in the Trinity River Vision master plan, which would provide zoning and development of apartments, shops, commercial buildings and recreational facilities on a lake created by rerouting the river.

It would also continue a streak of riverfront development begun with the construction of headquarters for Pier 1 Imports and RadioShack, and the planned Trinity Bluffs apartment, condominium and retail development.

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said Tuesday that he understood that the college has acquired property on both sides of the river.

Although he has not seen the final plans, Moncrief said, initial proposals called for at least one building to span the Trinity River like an archway.

"It is more than impressive," Moncrief said of the campus. "It shows tremendous vision, as well as utilizing one of our location attractions and natural resources -- the Trinity River."

U.S. Rep. Kay Granger said Tuesday that she has seen the final campus plan but declined to provide details before Friday's announcement.

"It's an extremely exciting concept, one people will be so proud of," the Fort Worth Republican said.

TXU retired the power plant in March. The plant, built in 1912, had not been used for several years. The college has paid for environmental tests on the soil, but the results are not known.

An old TXU power plant in Dallas was dismantled and 200,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil was hauled away six years ago in preparation for the construction of American Airlines Center. The cost of the "brownfield cleanup" was estimated at $10 million and was aided by $2 million from the Environmental Protection Agency. Tarrant County joined the brownfield program in 1998.

TCC spent about $10.25 million for the 6.75 acres near the courthouse between Bluff and Belknap streets and between Calhoun and Pecan streets. It also bought parcels between Calhoun and Jones streets south of Belknap Street along Weatherford Street.

Deed records on a TXU land sale are not yet available.

Granger, scheduled to speak Friday, said her comments will focus on the campus's role in the Trinity River Vision, the town lake and other downtown development along the river.

With the new campus, downtown will become a place for people to live, work, play and learn, she said.

"To have this downtown campus is going to be great," Granger said.

Final plans and a model of the Trinity River project will be released Dec. 8, followed by a three-month public comment period, she said.

TCC has acquired downtown tracts in recent months from Fine Line Diversified Realty, a real estate entity of Fort Worth financier Ed Bass; FW Corkline Development, headed by David Corrigan of Corrigan Investments in Dallas; and David Lock, owner of Leonard's Farm and Ranch store.

The college has been collecting a tax since 2002 for a downtown campus.

#61 mosteijn

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 05:41 PM

Granger, scheduled to speak Friday, said her comments will focus on the campus's role in the Trinity River Vision, the town lake and other downtown development along the river.

With the new campus, downtown will become a place for people to live, work, play and learn, she said.

"To have this downtown campus is going to be great," Granger said.

Final plans and a model of the Trinity River project will be released Dec. 8, followed by a three-month public comment period, she said.

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YES!!! That's the best part of the article, IMO. I can't wait for the model to give an idea of what kind of buildings they want to see developed on the "island" portion (lowrise, midrise or highrise). I'm definately marking Dec. 8th on my calander... :smwink:

All in all this is great news and I can't wait to see the renderings. Mr. de la Garza could have been a little less vague about the architecture, but I guess I'll find out what he means on Friday.

#62 David Love

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 09:52 AM

Question? Does downtown Fort Worth need more liberal arts students?


Where else are we going to find someone qualified to run those fancy espresso machines? :smwink:

#63 Willy1

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 10:22 PM

Let's all cross our fingers for some buildings that are over 600-700 ft tall. Downtown FW needs some height to it. I'd love to see Seattle-like skyline here in FW!

#64 UrbanLandscape

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Posted 29 October 2004 - 10:14 AM

Let's all cross our fingers for some buildings that are over 600-700 ft tall. Downtown FW needs some height to it. I'd love to see Seattle-like skyline here in FW!

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Why Seattle? Was it just the most random city you could think of? And what's wrong with being original? How about, "I'd love to see a unique but impressive skyline here in Fort Worth!" I like that.

#65 Redshirt

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Posted 29 October 2004 - 10:52 AM

Posted on Fri, Oct. 29, 2004

TCC announces downtown plan

New campus to feature sky bridge over river

Star-Telegram

Tarrant County College plans to build a riverfront campus in downtown Fort Worth featuring a sky bridge that will link buildings on both sides of the Trinity River, officials announced today.

The college has spent $38.37 million to purchase 55 acres on the north and south sides of the river, including the site a former power plant owned by TXU Power. TCC is still negotiating for three small parcels totaling 23,667 square feet. The total cost for the campus is projected to be about $135 million.

The site is near the Tarrant County Courthouse and east of Main Street.

College officials anticipate the first phase of the campus, with 500,000 square feet, to open in September 2008. It will offer programs to prepare students for careers in the medical services field. Initial enrollment is expected to be 3,750 students.

Architects for the project will be Gideon Toal of Fort Worth and Bing Thom Architects of Vancouver.

Their is a small picture on the ST web site :smwink:

#66 360texas

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Posted 29 October 2004 - 11:40 AM

At noon today, Channel 8 news quickly showed the model. Maybe in the next few days they will show a better view of the proposed layout.

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#67 renamerusk

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Posted 29 October 2004 - 12:27 PM

I too saw a quick glimpse of the proposed TCC downtown campus.

Even though the model is conceptual, my intial impression is that the campus will have a 21st century modernist/futuristic design. If this is true, then Iam certainly glad that the campus will not be an immediate part of Courthouse Square and its 19th Century charm and that TCC is somewhat screened from view by the river's bluff. I will be hoping to submit my suggestions/concerns when TCC holds its public comment hearings.

:angry: A freightening thought: Will TCC use the blocks it purchased to the east of the Courthouse for a parking garage? That would be cause for civil war!!!!!

One thing that I am most curious about is how TCC will incorporate the somewhat overlooked architectural assets of the TXU plant building. IMHO, TXU is worthy of preservation and not demolition. Personally, I had hope that the city would have followed some who suggested that the TXU building could be used as a home of a new municipal aquarium.

#68 gdvanc

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Posted 29 October 2004 - 12:52 PM

New Campus page on TCC's web site.

There are a few links to jpegs at the bottom; these are of the same model - different angles but all essentially aerial. Couldn't really get a feel for building materials from the model - unless it's going to be built entirely out of Lucite.

From one angle, it appears that the top of the south-side buildings are level with Bluff St. and that part of the campus appears to extend out of the bluff. The north-side buildings don't appear to stand much taller than the viaduct. I know this will disappoint some, but given the amount of land purchased, the space needed, and the location I didn't expect a skyscraper. I look forward to seeing the renderings. There are interesting elements to the design and I'd like to see more of the detail.

#69 gcarey

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Posted 29 October 2004 - 01:02 PM

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#70 mosteijn

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Posted 29 October 2004 - 03:28 PM

Architects for the project will be Gideon Toal of Fort Worth and Bing Thom Architects of Vancouver.

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You've got to be kidding me...how did Fort Worth get so lucky!?!? Even though the model is vague, it is one of THE most unique things I think will be built in Fort Worth's modern era. A skybridge over the Trinity? That's going to look AMAZING. An excellent addition to downtown for sure.

#71 redhead

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Posted 29 October 2004 - 05:00 PM

I would not call it luck---I'd call it logic. Bing has been working very closely with the water board on the TRV. This makes perfect sense since it ties the north-south together just at the junction of the town lake. I think that to bring in another architectural firm would mean the loss of much of the understanding that BT and his associates gained through the public opinion process. Brilliant! Simply brilliant!!! Kudos to TCC for a fine decision.

#72 Dismuke

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Posted 29 October 2004 - 09:40 PM

So is there any word so far on the plans for the old Power Plant building? It looks like the outline of it might be appearing on some of the images - but it is hard to tell. It is a very nice looking building and it would be a shame to see it go.
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#73 normanfd

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 12:39 AM

My guess after looking at TCC's models is that the TXU plant will not be part of the first phase of development. We've discussed the adaptive reuse of the power plant in another topic on this forum sometime back. I personally think it would be a shame to tear down the power plant.

London's Tate Museum is located in a former electrical plant. Their facility was originally built in the 1950s and is nowhere near as attractive as our much older TXU plant.

In another curious parallel, a pedestrian span called the Millenium Bridge crosses the Thames linking the Tate with St. Paul's Cathedral just as the proposed TCC "skybridge" is envisioned to connect the campus across the Trinity.

#74 mosteijn

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 09:19 AM

Everyone worrying about the TXU plant building need not fear, TCC has plans for it:

"The TXU power plant, built in 1912, would probably be renovated for a fine arts facility or museum, Thom said. The plant was retired in March.

TXU Chairman Earl Nye said TXU is proud of the plant and its role in the city's progress. He said the building would be integrated into the campus' design.

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said the concept design would preserve the power plant building while adding a modern building that spans the river."- From today's in-depth article about the campus.

I like the sound of a fine arts museum. This will be a huge cultural asset to the town lake project once it kicks into gear and I can't wait for the Trinity project to get going. The article also says that the final concept design for the TRV will be presented in December. Yes that's right, final. Very good news.

#75 redhead

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 03:27 PM

My understanding is that the final TRV concept will be delivered to the city in the form of an enormous 3-D model of downtown, clearly depicting how development could take place in conjunction with the Trinity River Vision itself. The school will also be a part of that model, I assume, but not in its final form. Bing's office has contacted other developments in the area to insure that their projects are accurately depicted on the model. It should be very enlightening to Fort Worth residents and will certainly engender a great deal of excitement for a tremendous project's opening act!

#76 Redshirt

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 11:06 PM

I was looking at the TCC web site about the news on the DT campus and saw this picture(along with several others):

Posted Image

It looks as though, this is purely from the photo, the building will actually go under Bluff Street. Now I don't know other than looking at the picture but if you look close it seems to go under that street, it might just be the way the photo was taken. There are some other photos at their website - TCC New Campus. Channel 8 has a video about it on their website also WFAA Video

Also according to the site is that they will be moving the District Offices to the new land:

"Q: What will happen to the May Owen Center?
A: Our initial effort will be to build the campus - the learning facility. An administrative structure will at some point be built on the land we have acquired for the new campus, but for the time being our District Office will continue to be at the May Owen Center."

Should be interesting come December when this and the TRV project both are shown together. Very interesting time to be in Fort Worth. Wish I could be there. Guess I'll just have to keep reading the posts here. :angry:

#77 Redshirt

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 11:22 PM

Looking at both the TRV rendering and the TCC land option they don't mesh. The land the TCC proposes as an option(in blue) in the latest TRV concept is in the proposed "lake". Of course one image needs to be rotated 180 degrees.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Any thoughts on this? :angry:

#78 JBB

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Posted 31 October 2004 - 10:09 AM

I believe the TRV rendering far outdates the most recent TCC plans, so it shouldn't be much surprise that the two don't mesh.

#79 Urbndwlr

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Posted 31 October 2004 - 01:39 PM

The northern end of the TCC site appears to show bridges over Belknap and Weatherford, ending in a small building on the north side of Weatherford. It appears to be a small building surrounded by surface parking.

It is detail such as this that makes me concerned the design won't mesh well with the existing buildings in Downtown or be pedestrian-friendly.

We do not want any more bridges over the Downtown street grid, and we don't want any small buildings surrounded by rings of surface parking in Downtown. I trust that this project will be designed in a way that it is more sensitive to the existing built environment, and is not simply designed as though the building exists in a vacuum.

Otherwise I like the striking architecture and the focus toward the river.

I hope the school ultimately includes some high quality "creative" programs (e.g. interior design, graphic design, cullinary program).

#80 Urbndwlr

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Posted 31 October 2004 - 04:12 PM

Other observations:

- The model shows a structure of approximately 8 stories on the block bounded by Calhoun, Jones, Weatherford, and 1st. That building does not exist today - what is it?

- The TCC buildings on the north side of the river show curving lines over the building. Are those pedestrian/bike trails that run over the building instead of along the banks of the river? I think the flow of bike and pedestrian traffic along the river should not be impeded by the building. It should allow the natural landscape and pedestrians and cyclists to pass through the campus in some fashion.

- The model shows every block ringed with trees. Wow, doesn't that look great?
I really hope that this project stimulates the planting of trees around all of the blocks on that end (or all of) Downtown - would make it so much more inviting and beautiful. There is nothing more repelling than large expanses of concrete with no greenery. Plant 'em now so we can enjoy them in the future!

#81 mosteijn

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Posted 31 October 2004 - 04:30 PM

The northern end of the TCC site appears to show bridges over Belknap and Weatherford, ending in a small building on the north side of Weatherford.  It appears to be a small building surrounded by surface parking. 

It is detail such as this that makes me concerned the design won't mesh well with the existing buildings in Downtown or be pedestrian-friendly. 

We do not want any more bridges over the Downtown street grid, and we don't want any small buildings surrounded by rings of surface parking in Downtown.   I trust that this project will be designed in a way that it is more sensitive to the existing built environment, and is not simply designed as though the building exists in a vacuum.

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The model is quite confusing (there's a block missing from it)...but I don't think there's a bridge over Belknap and the lot in question is set to become a public plaza, not a surface lot. That will definately add some needed public space to the new Uptown area of Downtown.

- The model shows a structure of approximately 8 stories on the block bounded by Calhoun, Jones, Weatherford, and 1st. That building does not exist today - what is it?

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There is something there, but it's not 8 stories. I'm willing to bet they exaggerated, but there's a chance something is in the works to be built there we don't know about (wishful thinking) :angry: .

#82 Urbndwlr

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Posted 31 October 2004 - 05:58 PM

I think that block is where the second county court building was supposed to go. I think that one is on ice for the time being. I figured that model might indicate the massing of the proposed new courthouse.

Sorry - it is just Belknap over which a bridge appears. The bridge to which I refer is a very subtle (appears almost transparent) extension of the linear roofline of the southern group of buildings - extending over Belknap, ending on the block between Belknap and Weatherford. Its the Swiss Cheese-like plank that appears to extend over the street, no?

#83 John T Roberts

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Posted 31 October 2004 - 06:48 PM

Urb, even the proprty map and the model don't agree. On the model, the block where the small building is located was supposed to be the block where the new Civil Courts Building was supposed to be constructed. I do think the 8 story structure indicated on the model will be the new Civil Courts Building. Maybe it will be moved one block east. As for the cheese-like plank, I think it may be the opposite of what you think. It may go under Belknap Street instead of over it.

#84 Redshirt

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Posted 31 October 2004 - 08:37 PM

It looks as though, this is purely from the photo, the building will actually go under Bluff Street. Now I don't know other than looking at the picture but if you look close it seems to go under that street, it might just be the way the photo was taken.

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Sorry, I should have said Belknap not Bluff, my mistake. I'm not good with downtown street names and I guess I looked at the map wrong. :rolleyes:

#85 mosteijn

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Posted 03 November 2004 - 04:42 PM

Designer using his flair on new TCC campus

By Mitchell Schnurman

Star-Telegram Staff Writer


Developers have long wanted to put big buildings around the bluffs near downtown Fort Worth, but they had to give up the idea because the soil wasn't stable enough.

For decades, people had dumped trash and construction-site dirt over the edge of the bluffs, toward the Trinity River. That material piled up and is now covered with trees, grass and weeds. But it's still too wobbly to support a large structure.

So how is Tarrant County College going to put half of its new downtown campus atop the same area?

It plans to remove the fill and trash, then scrape the surface down to the limestone. Then it will excavate enough rock to make a foundation, and instead of building vertically, the campus structures will reach out horizontally along the rock bed. They'll stretch from Belknap Street in the central core to the edge of the Trinity.

"It will be like implanting a periscope into the bluff, and it will extend toward the river instead of the sky," says Bing Thom, the Vancouver, British Columbia-based architect who will design the campus with Gideon Toal of Fort Worth.

A sky bridge will span the river, and the other half of the campus will be built like most of Texas -- on a flat lawn.

Thom's construction approach is one of the many novel elements in the planned TCC campus, which is shaping up as one of the county's most important real estate deals in years.

On Friday, officials unveiled a site plan and concept model for the $135 million project, demonstrating how it will connect downtown with the north side.

The formal design work is just beginning, and Thom says the opportunity is enormous: TCC now controls 55 acres on both sides of the river, adjacent to a bustling downtown.

Such large tracts in prime locations are rarely available for all-new development, and Thom wants to make the most of this one.

He is known for using waterways in urban settings and for having an eye for the dramatic. He described his style as "contemporary, modern, with a very strong regional flair."

To get an idea of how he challenges conventions, consider a university that he built atop a shopping center in Surrey, a town near Vancouver.

He wanted the school and shopping center to feed off the energy of their different customers. The school's main area looks more like a festival site than a student commons, and Thom says it's an indication of what he and Gideon Toal are talking about with TCC.

The campus' great hall will be built into the bluffs, and at Belknap, its roof will be part of a public plaza. The hall will then stretch toward the water, allowing visitors to descend the bluffs on stairways or escalators.

"The whole thrust of the project is find a path from downtown to the river," Thom says.

On his first visit to downtown Fort Worth, he asked almost a dozen people for directions to the Trinity. No one could help him.

He passed the jail and parking lots, but no sign of water.

"In the future, they'll just say, 'Go down Main Street and keep going,' " Thom says.

The campus, with a reflecting pond atop the great hall, will pull your eye toward the river.

The challenge of the project isn't the excavation or the engineering, he says, because his firm does that kind of work regularly in the mountainous West.

"The difficult part is the software -- finding a way to combine all the different kinds of users," Thom says.

Suburban colleges are traditionally isolated, almost worlds unto themselves.

"This campus has to be knitted into the fabric of the city," he says.

He threw out several possibilities. The students' wellness center could do double duty, offering fitness programs for office workers and families.

Maybe RadioShack and other companies could use the school for research projects. Or if a downtown professional needs to brush up on his language skills, he could take a course at the college.

"The whole idea is for cross-fertilization," Thom says.

That extends beyond the campus. An intriguing piece of the TCC deal is that it picks up a couple of dozen acres on the west side of Main, across from the lower campus.

That's not likely to be needed for campus expansion, but it was part of the deal with TXU, which sold the land to the college.

Thom wants to rehabilitate the historical plant building for a public use, perhaps dance performances or art galleries. But he wants the private sector to be involved, too.

"Or it will get too boring," he says.

The area is a key piece in the Trinity River Vision, a point of land that slopes from North Main Street to the edge of a planned Town Lake. Eventually, Thom expects it to be a center of activity, with shops that rent bicycles, in-line skates, kayaks and small sailboats.

"There should be little restaurants, pubs and just places to hang out," he says.

This won't happen overnight. Tarrant County College has to build its downtown campus first, which is a four-year project. And it has to clean up the western edge of the TXU property, contaminated long ago by a lead smelter.

But the blueprint is being drawn now, and it has the potential to reshape the city.



The S-T had some pretty nifty pictures of projects Bing has done and they're quite impressive. I can't wait to see a more detailed rendering of this project!

#86 RD Milhollin

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Posted 03 November 2004 - 05:13 PM

TXU Power Plant renovation?

One word.

Natatorium! :D

#87 ghughes

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Posted 03 November 2004 - 08:45 PM

OK, Pup, y' sent me to dictionary.com, I'll admit. But, what if Trinity water got in there?

This looks like a great project and a terrific addition to Fort Worth. Even as a four-year college it will be a huge boost to downtown... but if it grows a graduate school it would fill a huge void!

My concern, albeit small because I can't believe it would be overlooked, is the bike trails. North of the river I suggest the trail run through a building with glass walls to separate the cyclists from an indoor cafe. Or something like that; it's conceptual. The south side of the river is navigable by mountain bike, and I hope it will remain so.

#88 mosteijn

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Posted 03 November 2004 - 09:57 PM

My concern, albeit small because I can't believe it would be overlooked, is the bike trails. North of the river I suggest the trail run through a building with glass walls to separate the cyclists from an indoor cafe. Or something like that; it's conceptual.

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That sounds like an excellent idea!

#89 cberen1

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 12:30 PM

I drove by the TXU site yesterday. It looked like there were cranes taking down the tranformers, power lines and support strutures. I haven't been back by to see how far they got.

I sure like progress.

#90 Thurman52

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 09:34 PM

There is also an environmental crew cleaning up the building and stacks.

#91 apearson28

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 12:20 PM

hey dont know if anyone noticed, but you can go see more sweet pictures at the architects site:

www.bingthomarchitects.com

go to projects, cultural, and tcc

#92 SouthSideAllan2000

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 12:59 PM

That is sweet! I love how it cuts through the bluff. That is awesome. Can't wait.

#93 mrowl

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 08:55 AM

hey dont know if anyone noticed, but you can go see more sweet pictures at the architects site:

www.bingthomarchitects.com

go to projects, cultural, and tcc

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WOW. I love this website! The Trinity plan is there also, go to urban design, some awesome sketches!

#94 Thurman52

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Posted 26 August 2005 - 07:03 AM

Blip from today S-T: Artlicle Talking about TCC Costs.. Do you think 2023 is a typo?

Current designs of the downtown campus feature reflecting pools, waterfalls and a two-level footbridge crossing the river. The campus is being designed by a partnership of the Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects and the Fort Worth-based Gideon Toal.

TCC officials plan to open the college in fall 2008 and finish building its 839,782 square feet in 2023.

#95 grow_smart

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 10:29 AM

Blip from today S-T: Artlicle Talking about TCC Costs.. Do you think 2023 is a typo?

TCC officials plan to open the college in fall 2008 and finish building its 839,782 square feet in 2023.

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I believe 2023 is correct. It's basically a '15 year' plan - so if things slide to a 2009 opening date, the build out would occur in 2024. Obvioulsy it's highly dependent on a number of other fatcors (funding, enrollment, TRV, etc.), but that's their plan.

#96 mosteijn

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 12:13 PM

But did the article mention when (or if) construction is supposed to start? I don't recall from the past articles when they wanted to actually break ground. Seems like this project had been pretty quiet until the smokestack issue came up. Anyone know anything else about the status?

#97 fwpcman

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 02:19 PM

Has anybody heard anything on this lately?

#98 mosteijn

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 09:51 PM

I was wondering about this too. TCC's website still says that construction will start this year, expected completion date 2008.

#99 cberen1

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 02:21 PM

QUOTE(Jonnyrules23 @ Jan 9 2006, 11:51 PM) View Post

I was wondering about this too. TCC's website still says that construction will start this year, expected completion date 2008.



chirp, chirp...

- [crickets]

#100 JBB

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Posted 03 April 2006 - 08:49 AM

I'm surprised no one has posted this column from yesterday's S-T. Sounds like the cost of the new TCC campus has gone up just a tad. But, the article also says that phase 1 construction starts this summer.

TCC rebuffs request for info
By DAVE LIEBER
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Bill Wright wanted to know the projected cost of the new Tarrant County College downtown campus.

He attended a TCC District board meeting in January and heard the estimate for the project increase by $100 million, to $234 million -- not including the $38 million spent to buy the land. So after the meeting, he asked TCC officials to tell him the cost of an 18-acre tract owned by TXU Energy that TCC has an option to buy.

The land, not far from the landmark smokestacks that were toppled as part of the project last year, is contaminated by hazardous waste from an old lead smelting plant and a metals recycling business.

TCC officials wouldn't give Wright any figures. They said the contract numbers were confidential.

They were wrong.

Wright believed that the numbers he wanted were public information because TCC had signed a contract with TXU. Once a contract is signed with a government, it is supposed to be public. Frustrated, Wright contacted The Watchdog.

Wright's question is legitimate, especially when considering the rising costs for the downtown campus.

Several years ago, before TCC officials had a firm plan on what site they planned to build on, officials said the cost would be between $25 million and $75 million, according to a previous report in the Star-Telegram archives.

The figure was next reported to be $100 million. Then, at the 2004 official announcement of the Trinity River project, the figure increased to $134 million, not including the land.

At the January meeting which Wright attended, the new number offered by TCC officials is $234 million, in 2008 dollars.

The campus will be on both sides of the West Fork of the Trinity River, near the Tarrant County Courthouse.

The project, which could include a skywalk across the river and a rooftop reflecting pool, is a key component of the proposed Trinity River Vision project to revitalize land along the river. U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, has called TCC's involvement in the project "the quintessential Fort Worth deal."

TCC officials say the announced costs of the new campus are growing because original estimates did not include architectural and engineering fees, certain construction costs -- such as making the buildings more energy-efficient -- insurance, and construction program management costs.

In addition, Rudy Gonzales, TCC's vice chancellor for financial services, said labor and material costs are expected to rise because of the demand created by efforts to repair damage along the Gulf Coast from last year's hurricanes.

Wright, a 75-year-old Ridglea investment counselor, monitors TCC and its spending habits. It's a lonely fight. Attending monthly TCC board meetings is not on anybody's list of the top 10 things to do in Tarrant County.

Yet, with four regional campuses, a $230 million annual operating budget and a tax rate that takes almost 14 cents from Tarrant County property owners for every $100 of assessed property value, the college district has a big impact on taxpayers.

The TXU site would allow TCC to increase its downtown campus to 55 acres. Construction of a portion of the first phase of the campus is expected to begin this summer, with an opening projected for fall 2008. The TXU land is not included in this phase.

The Watchdog filed a written request under the Texas Public Information Act for a copy of the options contract that Wright could not get. Within days, TCC officials made the document available.

The contract shows that TCC paid TXU $1,000 for a 20-year option to buy the land. The contract lists the purchase price as $100 -- about $5.55 an acre. The option to buy expires in 2024.

"That's not very much," a surprised Wright said when The Watchdog shared the low price with him last week.

The price is low, but not a complete surprise when taking into consideration the land's condition.

Wright predicted that a complete environmental cleanup at the site would be more expensive than TCC officials may anticipate, further driving up construction costs.

When I asked TCC officials why they didn't give Wright the contract information when he asked, they said they didn't believe that it was public information.

"We're trying to work with TXU with all those issues, and we wanted to stay in a good working relationship with TXU, so we had to keep both sides happy, too," Gonzales said.

Gonzales and Provost David Wells said they later asked their lawyer whether the option contract was public information. They said the lawyer replied that it was public; the next person who made an official open records request could get the contract.

Asked several times why they didn't contact Wright and tell him this, TCC officials declined to answer.

Wright said, "They don't want to give me anything because I've been such a thorn in their side."

A portion of the 18 acres is contaminated with what state environmental officials call volatile organic compounds in the soil and groundwater. Among those listed in state environmental reports reviewed by The Watchdog are arsenic, chromium, vinyl chloride and lead. Mercury has been found on the wall of an underground pit but not in groundwater, records show.

TXU has worked with the state for 14 years to monitor the site and make sure that no toxic materials are released into the Trinity River. The site has a groundwater extraction system that filters and cleans contaminated water, records show.

The latest monitoring report on file with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality shows that nine of 14 monitoring wells on the site sampled in January 2005 found hazardous materials.

TXU spokesman Tom Kleckner said Friday that until and if the sale happens, the company will continue to monitor the site.

At first, TCC officials estimated in an interview with The Watchdog that they could clean up the site for about $2 million. But last week TCC officials corrected that estimate when they released to The Watchdog a written statement from Gene Murray, an environmental consultant who works with the college: "Our estimate of the cleanup of the site was in the neighborhood of $2 million, but Steve Kleypas [director of hazardous materials management for the college district] reminded me that it was a very rough estimate. ...

"Before the District actually exercises its option to acquire the property, we will need to do extensive environmental research so we understand clearly what our options are for re-use of the property, how it may be cleaned, to what standards -- residential or commercial, and what that real cost will be.

"At the end of the day, the Board may decide the risks or costs are greater than any value the land may have for us and elect not to exercise the option."

The college district has collected $140 million in taxes for the new campus since 2002, Gonzales said. The district does not expect to pay for any of the project using loans or bond money.

Meanwhile, Bill Wright, the district watchdog, says he is frustrated by his lonely quest to monitor TCC's spending. He says he is thinking of quitting.

News researchers Marcia Melton and Adam Barth contributed to this report.







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