Campus Master Plan | 2011
Click here for a full PDF copy of the UTEP Campus Master Plan

Memorial Triangle

Existing and Proposed Memorial Triangle (mouse over for proposed image, click image for larger version of proposed plan, click here for larger version of existing plan)

Visitors approaching campus along University Avenue know they have arrived when they see the monumental sloping lawn of Memorial Triangle. In a campus where open space is limited by terrain and infrastructure, Memorial Triangle provides a grand, outdoor living room that is both the symbolic and functional hub of the University.

As important as it is to the campus, however, many current features of Memorial Triangle keep it from fulfilling its role as well as it could. A large parking lot, IC-10, and three major roadways—Kerby Avenue to the north, University Avenue to the south, and Hawthorne Street to the east—isolate the space from surrounding campus buildings. The significant slope of the lawn and obstructions such as the flagpole, bank pavilion, and existing landscape limit the usability and versatility of the space.

The Master Plan recommendation to remove cars from the core campus and the imminent siting of the Lhakhang, a small Bhutanese temple, provide an opportunity to reconsider Memorial Triangle and its relationship to the rest of campus. The Master Plan proposes that Memorial Triangle be reconfigured and reconnected to the surrounding campus, both to increase its functionality and to enhance its role as the symbolic heart of the UTEP campus.

The Plan enhances and enlarges Memorial Triangle by removing the parking lot and northern extension of Hawthorne Street, allowing the space to extend and relate to a new Union West. In order to maintain connectivity between the northern and southern parts of campus, a new, limited-use roadway will be introduced at the west edge of the space as an extension of Wiggins Drive. The new north/south roadway should be designed and detailed to emphasize its pedestrian, rather than vehicular, use. The curb-to-curb dimension should be kept to a minimum, and the paving should be consistent with other pedestrian paths in the area. Bollards or a gateway are recommended at either end of the roadway to control access.

While University Avenue and Kerby Avenue will maintain limited vehicular use, the Plan proposes that these roadways be narrowed and that sidewalks and landscaping be provided to enhance pedestrian comfort and safety, and to better integrate them with the space.

The Plan proposes that the site be regraded to achieve a gentler slope. The majority of the space will be open lawn, with trees and desert plantings kept to the periphery to allow for maximum flexibility. A trellis along the northern edge of the space will negotiate the change in grade, with a terrace overlooking the space at its upper level in front of the Psychology Building. Naturalistic rock outcroppings with desert landscaping will transition from the lower to the upper level along the east and west sides of the space.

The Plan sites the Lhakhang on a terrace at the northwest corner of Memorial Triangle. The terrace will provide an overlook onto Memorial Triangle as well as allow ceremonial procession around the temple. The Lhakhang will be oriented according to Buddhist tradition with its window facing due west.

A large trellis-shaded terrace will extend the public space of the new Union West out to Memorial Triangle, providing a shady spot from which to view activities and events below. Monumental stairs at the south end of the terrace will connect down to the lawn.

The Plan also strengthens the connection between Magoffin Theater and Memorial Triangle. Narrowing the existing Circle Drive will allow for the addition of lobby and prefunction space at the front of the theater. A new turnaround accommodates drop-off for major events while maintaining a safe pedestrian environment.

East-facing Section through Existing and Proposed Memorial Triangle (mouse over for proposed image, click image for larger version of proposed section, click here for larger version of existing section)

Existing parking, along with the northern extension of Hawthorne Avenue, isolates Union West from Memorial Triangle.

Memorial Triangle (above) plays an essential role in the life of the University, but is disconnected from the rest of campus. Roadways such as Circle Drive and University Avenue are too wide, and parked cars dominate one's perception of the space. The proposed plan for Memorial Triangle integrates the space with the surrounding campus by narrowing vehicular lanes and removing parking. Terraces at the Lhakhang, the Psychology Building, and Union West provide a visual connection between the upper and lower levels of the space. (mouse over for proposed image, click image for larger version)

The revised Memorial Triangle (depicted above as approached from Hawthorne Street) will allow for informal gatherings and activities, major public events such as Minerpalooza and tailgating, and important University assemblies and ceremonies. (Mouse over for proposed image, click above image for larger version of proposed Memorial Triangle)

Memorial Triagle Phasing
The proposed plan for Memorial Triangle will be realized in phases, beginning with the installation of the Lhakhang structure anticipated for summer 2011.

Phase 1   The Lhakhang may be sited with little disruption to the existing campus roadway and utility infrastructure. The first phase will likely consist solely of the Lhakhang and its accompanying terrace. This will temporarily reduce the lawn area of Memorial Triangle.

Phase 2   The Second Phase will expand Memorial Triangle to the east to connect to Union West. This will necessitate removing all surface parking and the northern extension of Hawthorne Street. It is therefore recommended that the new north/south road in front of the Geological Sciences Building be constructed as part of this phase.

At this time the site will be regraded to achieve a more gradual slope. Terraces on the north and east sides of the space will be constructed to negotiate the change in grade, and naturalistic planting and rock outcroppings will be installed at the periphery.

Full Build-Out   Other aspects of the Memorial Triangle area, though key to the long-term success of the space, may be constructed independently of the first and second phases. Most important will be the renovation of Kerby and University Avenues as pedestrian-oriented streets.

Memorial Triangle Phases 1 and 2 (mouse over for Phase 2 image,
click image for larger version of Phase 2, click here for larger version of Phase 1)