Phoenix Center, Texas A&M College of Architecture partner to design new facility

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

More than 60 Texas A&M University College of Architecture students and faculty members will come to Marble Falls on Monday, Sept. 12, to tour a potential site for a new Phoenix Center facility and to help produce schematic architectural and site master planning concepts for the non-profit organization.

Phoenix Center Executive Director and founder Sarah Garrett said the partnership is being made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Texas A&M College of Architecture’s High-Impact Learning Vertical Interdisciplinary Studio.

“The goal is to create designs for a new Phoenix Center,” Garrett said. “We want to work with them to create an integrated facility with outside and inside spaces that will be healing spaces. There will be natural light, the sound of water and plants because we don't want to create a space that is cold or clinical. Texas A&M College of Architecture has the tools and the knowledge to make this happen.”

In addition to creating schematic designs for the Phoenix Center trauma-informed therapy and education facility and campus, the team from A&M will produce high-quality design products to assist the Phoenix Center in its capital campaign efforts and educate the next generation of architects and landscape architects.

A charter bus of faculty and students will arrive in Marble Falls at about 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 12, to meet with the staff of the Phoenix Center. During the visit, members will tour a potential site for the future Phoenix Center facility, and visit Candlelight Ranch, the current location for Camp Phoenix, the summer camps run by Phoenix Center for children of trauma. The group will have lunch courtesy of the River City Grille and is expected to leave Marble Falls at about 4:30 p.m. that day.

After the visit, students and faculty will begin analyses and start concept development and preliminary design. At mid-term, the design will be reviewed. Master planning, landscape design, and facility design will follow. The final presentation and seminar will take place in Marble Falls during the first week of December 2016 and will be open to the public at a time and place to be announced.

In October 2015, the Phoenix Center launched a five-year capital campaign to raise funds to purchase land, build a new trauma facility, start a year-round equine therapy program, construct camp

facilities, support increased operating expenses, and grow an endowment fund. Currently, the center works out of cramped space on the second floor of Liberty Hall in Marble Falls.

Garrett said the idea of getting Texas A&M College of Architecture involved started with one of the center's donors, Jerry Strickland, who suggested the center should partner with a college's architecture department.

“We thought A&M would be best because they specialize in innovative healthcare design and they also have a world-class equine center on the campus,” Garrett said. “Jerry and I drove down to College Station and met with the dean and he was really excited because (the dean and his wife) had adopted two children who have suffered from trauma. He and his wife are very interested in innovative solutions to help children of trauma and the work we do at the Phoenix Center.”

Founded in 2007 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the mission of the Phoenix Center is to inspire hope, health, and healing by providing the highest level of mental health care to every child and family through innovative trauma-informed therapy and education. The Phoenix Center employs only highly trained professionals and provides multiple research-based therapeutic interventions all under one umbrella; something found nowhere else in Texas.

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