Safety, aesthetics top priority list for new Worth Hills “garage-mahal”

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It’s official: TCU is getting a parking garage.

But not without caution, careful planning and a pre-meditated plan for safety.

Long a complaint of the student body, the university has begun to address the campus’ need for parking garages.

The first of a possible three garages on campus is in plans to be built in the Worth Hills area, Chancellor Victor Boschini said.

“[A parking garage is] what people have been asking for 11 years,” he said.

Safety a Must

Because of safety concerns, Chancellor Boschini said his opinion of parking garages changed after a visit to see Baylor’s garage. 

“It’ll be very transparent as far as garages go and that’ll help,” Boschini said. “It will have an outlet of the TCU Police Department, and that’ll help a lot.”

TCU Chief of Police Steven McGee echoed Boschini’s comments, emphasizing an importance for student safety within the garage.

“The bottom line is it will need to look nice, be safe, be practical, and plus replace the parking that’s lost when they put new residence halls in,” McGee said.

McGee said the garage will have level floors that allow anyone to be able have a clear sight line from one side of the garage to the other.

“You want good lighting. I like the concept of having one open level for each floor,” he said. “That way you can have video cameras and cover the whole area.”

Director, Facility Planning and Construction Harold Leeman said the university’s garage would be unique in that it will not have any parking spots on the slopes that lead from level to level.

“You’ll take the ramp up and come to a level, and that level will be completely flat,” Leeman said. “You will have complete vision across the lot from any place on the lot. There’s really no hiding spaces.”

McGee also said the university is exploring the idea of dividing parking by grade classification, in hopes of preventing students from having to scour the garage at late times.

“We’re looking at maybe zoning the parking by classification, so we can put so many people on each level where [students] don’t have to drive around a parking garage all night,” he said.

Leeman, McGee and Boschini each stressed safety as one of the biggest priorities in building the university’s first parking structure.

“We want to make it safe, and we want to make it practical for students,” McGee said.

TCU’s own “Garage-Mahal”

Throughout the years, Boschini has also voiced a concern over the aesthetic impact of placing a large parking structure on the university’s clean-cut campus.

Boschini said he was very impressed with Baylor’s garage, and the way they blended the structure into the campus around it.

“When you drive up to it you really cant even tell it’s a parking garage until you get right next to it,” he said.

Leeman said the university is working to make the garage fit into Worth Hills in a way that uses the land’s natural shape and conceals the size of the structure by placing it in the area northwest of Brachman Hall over the drainage ditch behind the Physical Plant.

“We’re going to try to take advantage of the topography and we can build a fairly large structure, maybe five, six, or seven stories tall,” he said. “But when we put it down in that hill it will mask the volume of the structure. Then we can have entrances in three levels without having to do anything.”

Leeman also said the university recognizes the garage doesn’t just affect campus, but the neighborhoods around campus that would have to see it every day.

“We’re working really hard to involve the local community to show that were going to build a very nice looking building,” he said.

Boschini said the garage would have to be aesthetically pleasing in order to get his final stamp of approval before they break ground on any parking structure.

“It will also look like a very nice building, I’m calling it a ‘garage-mahal,'” he said.

“It has to be nicer than a regular building,” he said. “Because I don’t want some big ugly garage in the middle of my campus.”

Plans for the Future

Boschini said the parking garage is the first of three potential garages to be constructed on the university's campus.

Boschini said that one of the other two garages would potentially be located over on the east side of campus near Tandy and Rogers Hall and help alleviate the strain on parking for commuters.

The third one may be located in what Boschini referred to as “the sea of parking” next to the Wright Admissions Center.

Boschini said he believes the university will eventually construct both of those garages, but there are no plans in the immediate future for either of them.

Leeman said this first garage will not be for commuter parking, but more for the residents in Worth Hills that will have their parking spots eliminated once TCU begins work on its new Greek Village.

“When we build out Worth Hills, we’ll be taking virtually all the surface parking away from that site and there will be buildings in the parking lots there and creating green spaces in between the buildings,” he said.

Leeman said in addition to the new garage, the construction of the Greek Village will involve razing almost all Greek housing as well as Brachman Hall.

Before the university can move forward with any other garages, they must complete the first one and make sure it is both sufficient and safe, he said.

“This is the first one,” Leeman said. “We have to build a really good parking garage for our first time out of the block, and then that opens up the possibility for future ones.”

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