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Spence Park Renovations


Nate99

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Ran across this. Those running through this dusty corner of the board probably know it, but in case you don't, Spence Park is directly across the street from the East side of Kyle field. It hosts lots of organized tailgate parties on game weekends, but generally suffers from neglect most of the rest of the time. It's kind of blighty looking when it's not covered with tents. 

 

The plan in the link below is ambitious to say the least. It would be the A&M campus' equivalent of Discovery Green, taking a half-assed strip of grass next to a big venue and turning it in to a centerpiece. Not sure if anyone has actually identified how to pay for it at this point, but Scotch might if he  stops by...

 

http://cbe.tamu.edu/Data/Sites/1/allouruploads/presidentialactions/2017actions/071917aggiepark.pdf

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This is news to me. "Fitch" from a popular Texas A&M forum got the ball rolling on this, big time, he would likely know more details. This at least looks promising, even if vague.

 

From KBTX, 2015: Group Working to Add Amenities, Renovations to Spence Park, about Fitch's website(since taken offline as far as I know) and efforts to build momentum for a project.

 

From KBTX, 2016: Texas A&M quietly continuing plans for Spence Park renovations

Edited by Scotch
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  • 3 years later...

This project has finally converged on a final design and is officially in progress. Selective demolition started a year ago and construction activity should pick back up this summer. This park will turn Kyle Field into waterfront property, create a grand new vista with a dramatic lawn for the east side of the stadium, and provide a new events center designed specifically for Ring Day among other events.

https://aggiepark.tamu.edu

 

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  • The title was changed to Spence Park Renovations
  • 5 weeks later...

They were smart to hire Lake Flato as the architect for the events facility. Overall the park seems grandiose, with pointless allees, monuments in search of meaning, and a vaguely Nuremberg parade grounds quality. In other words, just right for the new Kyle Field.

 

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5 hours ago, august948 said:

Imagine the tailgaters chagrin when they roll in from Dallas and find they can't put up their tents.

Actually part of the drive for the renovation was to increase useful tailgating space by leveling out the land (eliminating the slope down to the creek). The Association says this will result in more usable tailgating space.

 

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On 9/8/2021 at 6:39 AM, texan said:

Actually part of the drive for the renovation was to increase useful tailgating space by leveling out the land (eliminating the slope down to the creek). The Association says this will result in more usable tailgating space.

 

As one who went to A&M and was in the Corps of Cadets, Spence park was only ever used for two things, making Freshman (Fish) do pushups and pullups, along with running up and down the hill, and on weekends it was used for tailgating. Other than those two things Spence Park was always a dead space of a park. It was butt ugly and nobody spent time there. I welcome the changes, and its in line with what the schools direction has been over the past decade or so. Many old Ags don't like it and even people like me who went there in the last decade think whats being put in or replacing things is a bit...much sometimes, but its part of a greater goal by the board of directors which is simple. If we want to be a top 10 university then we need facilities, spaces, and environments that match that caliber of a school. That has been the goal. Whether one agrees with the aesthetics or grandiose nature of it all it has worked, and I at least admire the schools commitment to that objective.

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2 hours ago, Luminare said:

As one who went to A&M and was in the Corps of Cadets, Spence park was only ever used for two things, making Freshman (Fish) do pushups and pullups, along with running up and down the hill, and on weekends it was used for tailgating. Other than those two things Spence Park was always a dead space of a park. It was butt ugly and nobody spent time there. I welcome the changes, and its in line with what the schools direction has been over the past decade or so. Many old Ags don't like it and even people like me who went there in the last decade think whats being put in or replacing things is a bit...much sometimes, but its part of a greater goal by the board of directors which is simple. If we want to be a top 10 university then we need facilities, spaces, and environments that match that caliber of a school. That has been the goal. Whether one agrees with the aesthetics or grandiose nature of it all it has worked, and I at least admire the schools commitment to that objective.

Although I do have fond memories of many painful 5 AM mornings on that slope to the creek, I do agree that the park was a bit of a dump for being right next to the largest college football stadium in the country. Glad to hear that it will at least maintain the tailgating space, and I really hope it doesn't end up as . . . well, too much.

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2 hours ago, Luminare said:

As one who went to A&M and was in the Corps of Cadets, Spence park was only ever used for two things, making Freshman (Fish) do pushups and pullups, along with running up and down the hill, and on weekends it was used for tailgating. Other than those two things Spence Park was always a dead space of a park. It was butt ugly and nobody spent time there. I welcome the changes, and its in line with what the schools direction has been over the past decade or so. Many old Ags don't like it and even people like me who went there in the last decade think whats being put in or replacing things is a bit...much sometimes, but its part of a greater goal by the board of directors which is simple. If we want to be a top 10 university then we need facilities, spaces, and environments that match that caliber of a school. That has been the goal. Whether one agrees with the aesthetics or grandiose nature of it all it has worked, and I at least admire the schools commitment to that objective.

Agreed! I was taunted with these plans all throughout my time at A&M and am extremely happy they're moving forward, even if construction only got started during my last semester. I think the Gardens on West Campus will also help contribute to the facilities arms race, especially since it is also used for academics.

Construction cam:

https://app.truelook.com/?u=ma1629835378#tl_live

Edited by texan
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15 hours ago, Luminare said:

As one who went to A&M and was in the Corps of Cadets, Spence park was only ever used for two things, making Freshman (Fish) do pushups and pullups, along with running up and down the hill, and on weekends it was used for tailgating. Other than those two things Spence Park was always a dead space of a park. It was butt ugly and nobody spent time there. I welcome the changes, and its in line with what the schools direction has been over the past decade or so. Many old Ags don't like it and even people like me who went there in the last decade think whats being put in or replacing things is a bit...much sometimes, but its part of a greater goal by the board of directors which is simple. If we want to be a top 10 university then we need facilities, spaces, and environments that match that caliber of a school. That has been the goal. Whether one agrees with the aesthetics or grandiose nature of it all it has worked, and I at least admire the schools commitment to that objective.

I guess I'm the only one who liked the place as it was. If you needed a place to go on Main Campus that was informal and low key, to have a private conversation with someone or read a book outside without a thousand people looking at you, Spence was it. I also liked the pull-up bars. I guess there is Research Park but you have to drive there and it doesn't have the same feel. I also don't think this will do anything to make us a Top 10 university. The purpose is to increase the palatial feeling around Kyle Field and it will do that. Feels like Thomas Kinkade and Albert Speer collaborated on the design.

 

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1 hour ago, H-Town Man said:

I guess I'm the only one who liked the place as it was. If you needed a place to go on Main Campus that was informal and low key, to have a private conversation with someone or read a book outside without a thousand people looking at you, Spence was it. I also liked the pull-up bars. I guess there is Research Park but you have to drive there and it doesn't have the same feel. I also don't think this will do anything to make us a Top 10 university. The purpose is to increase the palatial feeling around Kyle Field and it will do that. Feels like Thomas Kinkade and Albert Speer collaborated on the design.

 

To me the park seems very Kevin Lynch inspired. Edges are very defined, Clear Nodes, Established districts with environments that inform you how a space should be used, and using established landmarks for way finding. I don't really understand these other comparisons to Nuremburg or whatever. Its not the park. Its the the arms race of facilities. That has been their goal. Saying that upgrading a park for a university doesn't elevate the level of your university is just like saying Memorial Park improvements, Buffalo Bayou, Discovery Green, Theater Square, etc, etc... aren't improvements which elevate the status of Houston as a city. Its not a great argument.

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43 minutes ago, Luminare said:

To me the park seems very Kevin Lynch inspired. Edges are very defined, Clear Nodes, Established districts with environments that inform you how a space should be used, and using established landmarks for way finding. I don't really understand these other comparisons to Nuremburg or whatever. Its not the park. Its the the arms race of facilities. That has been their goal. Saying that upgrading a park for a university doesn't elevate the level of your university is just like saying Memorial Park improvements, Buffalo Bayou, Discovery Green, Theater Square, etc, etc... aren't improvements which elevate the status of Houston as a city. Its not a great argument.

The athletic program has an arms race for facilities and that's what this is helping. I don't know of any arms race for parks that is affecting academic rankings. The UT campus has plenty of dingy areas, in fact the whole campus has an overall dingy feel, not too different from the Berkeleys of the world, where a little dinginess almost seems like a status symbol, a "we're too great to care" attitude. This is in a part of campus that is not really visible to prospective students other than athletes. As far as Nuremberg, yeah, the grand allees of trees culminating in a giant Aggie ring or grand stadium entrance feels very Nuremberg.

Not that I am against allees... the allee of trees approaching the Administration building or between the clock tower and the Academic building are properly majestic and meaningful. The allee along Military Walk with Sbisa framed at one end and Rudder staring down the other end is starting to get a little forced but the effect still works to a degree. But an allee culminating in a giant Aggie ring is just pure bathos. The device has been overused. And who is the statue in the rendering that will be staring down the other allee? Who have they not made a statue of yet? D.X. Bible? John David Crow? Gene Stallings? Sherrill? Slocum? I shudder to think - but wouldn't really be surprised - that it is part of Fisher's extension package?

 

Edited by H-Town Man
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32 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

The athletic program has an arms race for facilities and that's what this is helping. I don't know of any arms race for parks that is affecting academic rankings. The UT campus has plenty of dingy areas, in fact the whole campus has an overall dingy feel, not too different from the Berkeleys of the world, where a little dinginess almost seems like a status symbol, a "we're too great to care" attitude. This is in a part of campus that is not really visible to prospective students other than athletes.

 

I literally worked for a firm that focused exclusively on both K-12 education, trade school campuses, and higher education...yes its an arms race for every single facility not just sports. Its from Stadiums, to STEM buildings, to Administration buildings, to Liberal Arts, and yes even parks. Look at UofH, look at A&M. Last time I visited the University of Texas they were doing the same thing and also increasing the size of their stadium and improving promenades and park spaces. If the university didn't think that this was visible to prospective students then they wouldn't improve it.

32 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

This is in a part of campus that is not really visible to prospective students other than athletes. As far as Nuremberg, yeah, the grand allees of trees culminating in a giant Aggie ring or grand stadium entrance feels very Nuremberg.

Not that I am against allees... the allee of trees approaching the Administration building or between the clock tower and the Academic building are properly majestic and meaningful. The allee along Military Walk with Sbisa framed at one end and Rudder staring down the other end is starting to get a little forced but the effect still works to a degree. But an allee culminating in a giant Aggie ring is just pure bathos. And who is the statue that will be staring down the other allee? Who have they not made a statue of yet? D.X. Bible? John David Crow? Gene Stallings? Sherrill? Slocum?

 

Look if you don't like the ring itself or what it symbolizes then that is your personal viewpoint, but that doesn't mean that a promenade leading up to giant ring is somehow pseudo-fascistic, which is what Nuremburg comparison is implying. I've been to grand allees of all kinds from the grand boulevards of Paris which made through force of will demolishing buildings for its cause while putting grand works of public art as landmarks as its nodes, and I've also been to Karl Marx Allee in Berlin which used to be called Stalin Allee as it was specific designed to highlight the ideals of Socialism. From Renaissance, to Baroque, to Neoclassical, to Modernism, from those who believe in liberalism to Socialism, to fascisms, from religious to the secular. Every culture expresses spaces through these kind of allees with massive landmarks at the ends. Just because you have a personal beef with a giant ring at the end of it doesn't mean it is or even vaguely resembles your subjective understanding of what you think it is.

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12 minutes ago, Luminare said:

I literally worked for a firm that focused exclusively on both K-12 education, trade school campuses, and higher education...yes its an arms race for every single facility not just sports. Its from Stadiums, to STEM buildings, to Administration buildings, to Liberal Arts, and yes even parks. Look at UofH, look at A&M. Last time I visited the University of Texas they were doing the same thing and also increasing the size of their stadium and improving promenades and park spaces. If the university didn't think that this was visible to prospective students then they wouldn't improve it.

Look if you don't like the ring itself or what it symbolizes then that is your personal viewpoint, but that doesn't mean that a promenade leading up to giant ring is somehow pseudo-fascistic, which is what Nuremburg comparison is implying. I've been to grand allees of all kinds from the grand boulevards of Paris which made through force of will demolishing buildings for its cause while putting grand works of public art as landmarks as its nodes, and I've also been to Karl Marx Allee in Berlin which used to be called Stalin Allee as it was specific designed to highlight the ideals of Socialism. From Renaissance, to Baroque, to Neoclassical, to Modernism, from those who believe in liberalism to Socialism, to fascisms, from religious to the secular. Every culture expresses spaces through these kind of allees with massive landmarks at the ends. Just because you have a personal beef with a giant ring at the end of it doesn't mean it is or even vaguely resembles your subjective understanding of what you think it is.

That is an impressive list of allees you've been to. So... can an allee be overused? Like if there are half a dozen of them at the same college campus, including two crammed into a small park mostly used for tailgating? Do you really think that I'm attacking the Aggie ring and what it stands for? As for the comparison to Nuremberg, no, not pseudo-fascistic, just grandiose and overdone - which should have been pretty clear from my post. To me, the Aggie ring works just fine as simply a ring. It's quite powerful and doesn't need its own monument. Let the ring itself be the monument. 

You seem to interpret my criticism as antagonism for the school and its traditions. It's really the opposite. Things are cheapened by being overdone.

 

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3 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

That is an impressive list of allees you've been to. So... can an allee be overused? Like if there are half a dozen of them at the same college campus, including two crammed into a small park mostly used for tailgating? Do you really think that I'm attacking the Aggie ring and what it stands for? As for the comparison to Nuremberg, no, not pseudo-fascistic, just grandiose and overdone - which should have been pretty clear from my post. To me, the Aggie ring works just fine as simply a ring. It's quite powerful and doesn't need its own monument. Let the ring itself be the monument. 

You seem to interpret my criticism as antagonism for the school and its traditions. It's really the opposite. Things are cheapened by being overdone.

 

If this is what you mean then I actually agree. I was part of a company with the A&M Corps of Cadets that always had to polish that dopey giant ring. Its certainly not my favorite monument on campus. By far the best is the Bonfire memorial because of its simple, and graceful. While I'm not a fan of the giant ring I understand what it represents even if its a bit overdone and to obvious. Its just strange that Nuremburg is specifically the city chosen to describe it given its obvious connotations. I've been to St. Peters Basilica in Rome. Its an impressive structure and its beautiful....a bit grandiose. I mean there is gold trim everywhere. I've been to the Mall at Washington D.C. Where every single building is designed to reinforce the ideals, principles, and beliefs of what it means to be an American, and liberalism at large. Its beautiful and amazing to see but its also intimidating and grandiose. As far as too many allees in one place. Yeah thats a reasonable question aesthetically, but lets be real here A&M is very orderly, industrious, traditional school, and so grand allees that showcase all of those things, even if there are two many, works in an environment with those ideals. Even if I might think its overdone its just what A&M is. I think more than anything A&M has learned to just accept what it is, to be very confident and verbose about what it is, and now everything that is being built has become a reflection of that. Gone are the days when I was there when A&M was that dorky big college with weird traditions, and at the same time was always a little insecure about what other schools thought of it, in particular Texas. Now its going through a phase where its seems to really be embracing what it always was. Anyway thats just how I see it.

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I agree about the Vatican (and I am Catholic), and Rome in general. The 90th baroque church with plaza and fountain in front, and statue group inside the fountain, makes you want to puke. I guess I'm trying to keep A&M from becoming its own Vatican. I do think D.C. is tasteful though, especially as there's just the one grand mall, and it's not terribly grand, in fact sort of modest and spare.

I've always loved taking visitors to A&M and seeing how they react to all the symbolism and lore. It really makes an impression on people.

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8 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

I agree about the Vatican (and I am Catholic), and Rome in general. The 90th baroque church with plaza and fountain in front, and statue group inside the fountain, makes you want to puke. I guess I'm trying to keep A&M from becoming its own Vatican. I do think D.C. is tasteful though, especially as there's just the one grand mall, and it's not terribly grand, in fact sort of modest and spare.

I've always loved taking visitors to A&M and seeing how they react to all the symbolism and lore. It really makes an impression on people.

I get it. Its the direction its going. In my opinion, if thats the direction its going, then fine, but go all the way man. I've always said this, I don't like cults and I think they are stupid, but if I had to be part of a cult then I would be part of the A&M cult, because at the very least its a happy cult haha. Even if I disagree with that kind of mentality, of all the places to build anything grandiose it should be the place with proud industrious people with weird traditions. I think it would be a crime to not express that to its fullest. The world should not miss out in just how truly special A&M and truly weird it is, warts and all.

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