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Forest Hills Village Housing
Texas Christian University

Forest Hills Village Housing

In order to build new dormitories to house students belonging to sororities and fraternities at Texas Christian University, a 17-foot grade change had to accounted for. The solution selected was tiered walls - to keep in line with the campus' design standards and because of the presence of a huge utility easement. The city will not allow large concrete walls within an easement because of the complications of replacing it if they have to tear it down for underground maintenance and repair. Tiered, or stacked walls are allowed because they are easier to remove and replace if necessitated.

At Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, the existing dorms for the sororities and fraternities were aged to the point that tearing them down and putting up new ones made more sense than repairing the old ones. To assist on the project, landscape architecture firm Dunaway Design was called in to plan the exterior portions. This included areas of turf, plantings, irrigation, ADA-compliant sidewalks and tiered walls to accommodate a 17-foot grade change.

"It was a very large project," says the firm's Megan Abernathy, RLA, ASLA. "There are 10 dorms that include two or three chapters in each dorm (and it) had two phases: one for the sororities and one for fraternities."

She noted that a 6% slope existed pretty much all the way across the site, and given the need for ADA compliancy, the project required a lot of walls. The product selected was from Keystone HardscapesA(R), now owned by Quikrete Companies.

According to the manufacturer, their Regal Stone ProA(R) 3-piece wall system was chosen for this signature TCU campus housing project for its application flexibility and compatibility with the other construction materials.

Forest Hills Village Housing

Plantings were used to lend visual separation to the different buildings. For the sorority buildings, the design called for flowers, but somewhat neutral colored ones were specified so as not to conflict with a chapter's representative color scheme. For the fraternity buildings, plants that didn't necessarily have flowers such as the ornamental grasses in the foreground, and evergreen plants like the hollies in the background were installed.

Forest Hills Village Housing

In pedestrian areas where the drop from the top of the wall to the adjacent grade is more than 30", international building codes specify that guardrails be installed on top of the wall. The contractor fabricated the rails based on the university's standard detail.

"The system could meet all design needs, creating modular and tiered walls in a color and style that complemented the Greek architectural theme," stated Chad Corley, the manufacturer's director of public relations. "The natural RockFace stone texture of Regal Stone Pro in a limestone color blend (handled) functional and thematic requirements. As wall units were placed adjacent to existing buildings, it was critical they seamlessly integrate with existing structures and infrastructure supporting Greek campus life."

Since quality of construction and craftsmanship was a high priority, details were carefully considered: wall caps were placed slightly forward to impact the play of light and provide a finished look. Installers leveraged their skill and the product's versatility to create terraces, 90-degree corners and graceful outside radius curves, complementing the existing architecture.

Planting were then installed to moderate the look of the walls. And these plantings were strategically placed to give the different dorms visual separation.

Forest Hills Village Housing

The color was limestone and it closely matches the color of the cast stone such as the porches and trim on the buildings. It is the TCU standard color for stacked walls.

"If you look at the buildings, you can tell which ones are sororities because there are flowers everywhere," Abernathy enthuses. "And we tried to do neutral flowers like white instead of using a certain color because each sorority has a different color they like, and a different flower as their symbol."

The fraternity buildings on the other hand were planted more with ornamental grasses and evergreens.

All-in-all, Abernathy enjoys the final results.

"I think that corner of the property looks really cool with the stacked walls and the planting and it just softens the corner. I think it worked out really well."

As seen in LASN magazine, June 2019.

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November 16, 2019, 2:43 pm PDT

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