Selecting an artist to create a masterpiece is no small task, and careful thought and consideration were given to engaging an architect for the UT Dallas Campus Enhancement project.
Chosen for their familiarity with Dallas as well as their visionary designs at venues that range in size from university campuses to corporate headquarters and private gardens, Peter Walker and Partners explore the relationship between art, culture and nature.
The firm's architects challenge traditional concepts of design, and they frequently join with renowned architects to create significant projects. Among them are the Nasher Foundation Sculpture Center in Dallas, with Renzo Piano Workshop; and the Nishi Harima Science Garden City in Japan, with Arata Isozaki and Associates.
Over the years, Peter Walker and Partners have received honors and awards and won numerous design competitions, including the World Trade Center Memorial in New York, the United States Embassy in Beijing, and the Library Walk at the University of California, San Diego.
Through Peter Walker and Partners' creative vision, UT Dallas has begun a new chapter in its history and established a landscape of memories for generations to come.
Q&A with Peter Walker, Landscape Architect
This isn't the first time you've worked on projects in the Dallas area. What makes Dallas, and even Texas, so special?
I enjoy working in Texas because I have been fortunate to have clients who are committed to making local projects with international quality. In Texas, I have found my clients' visions and their company to be both generous and inspirational. Even when working on projects of international importance, we have found time to enjoy informal dinners at their homes.
How does landscape/environment build community?
Campus environments are an important place to teach about the built environment. For many students, a campus is their first experience of a place designed and built with an eye towards community, order and design. I believe it is important for campus environments to be forward looking, world class and beautiful, as they house the future leaders of our cities, planning departments, corporations, etc.
How did the history of UT Dallas and its reputation as a science and technology institution influence your design concepts for the University?
For many of our clients who work in areas of discovery or creative research, we aim to create environments that allow for informal interaction and places for walking or quiet reflection. We recently completed a remarkable landscape for the Novartis Pharmaceutical company in Basel, Switzerland that has attracted scientists from all over the world, in part because of the campus beauty.
How did the McDermott family and their reputation and history with Dallas and UT Dallas influence the scope of work at UT Dallas?
Their commitment to doing projects that have significant impact on Dallas was an inspiration.
You've worked on projects for academic institutions before. How was your work at UT Dallas different?
It is extremely rare to have such a committed patron as Mrs. Eugene McDermott. This allowed an opportunity to realize a project that sets a high bar for the future landscape at UT Dallas.
What feelings or thoughts do you hope to evoke in those who visit your works?
We will have succeeded if people remember this landscape after they leave.
As a landscape architect, where do you draw inspiration? What influences you as an artist/designer?
I am influenced by minimalist art and good design in all forms.
Why do organics and things of nature—trees, plants, waterways—draw people and communities in?
I think people are curious by nature. Organic things and things of nature can either be ignored and uninteresting or of profound significance. In the built environment, I think design makes the difference in making environments that are remembered and significant.
Where do you see the UT Dallas landscape five or 10 years (or more) from now?
UT Dallas is poised for significant growth as a university, as is the greater Dallas metropolitan region. I believe that this project will be a strong example of the importance of landscape and design and I hope it inspires both its own maintenance and other projects.