TCU Veterans Plaza Design

This description was provided by Michael Bennett, TCU Class of 1978, a principal with Gideon Toal Architects and Planners of Fort Worth, and designer of the plaza.

In planning the TCU Veterans Plaza, we worked to create a design that embodied the sacrifice and heroism of veterans and their families. In an attempt to symbolize this, we conceived the idea of a grove of trees as a symbol of the TCU community. Like a grove of trees, the members of the TCU community belong together, depending on and complementing one another throughout their lives. When one of the trees in a grove is lost, the grove is no longer the same, leaving a patch of sky where there once was none.

In this same way, the trees missing from the grove on the west side of Veterans Plaza symbolize the absence of those veterans who were lost in war. Within the space where the trees would have stood is a monument with plaques bearing the names of the fallen. The absence of tree limbs above the monument allow sunlight to penetrate during the day, illuminating the monument and providing a symbolic link to the heavens.

Uplighting washes the face of the monument structure at night. The trees are softly lit from below, creating a ceiling of leaves bathed in light. The absence of tree branches above the monument again leave an opening in this “ceiling,” giving visitors the opportunity to view the night sky through the break in the canopy.

Low walls with seating situated below the canopy of trees creates a pleasant and contemplative place. The landscaping and seat walls extending into the lawn area were kept low to avoid obstructing the view across the lawn area. The existing Shirley Boyd Memorial Flower Garden area has been incorporated into the western edge of the Veterans Plaza.

The grove of trees on the east side of University is complete, symbolizing the presence of the veterans among us and our future reunification with them. The sound of water from a new fountain at the east end of the axis masks the sound of traffic from University Drive. A higher curved wall of brick and cast stone screens the Veterans Plaza from traffic and parking on Lowden Street and provides a visual backdrop for the fountain.