Reviving Buena Vida: TSC architecture students make project proposal to HACB

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Texas Southmost College architecture students wrapped up their final architecture exam with a study and design proposal service-learning project for the redevelopment of the Buena Vida neighborhood in Brownsville. They recently presented the project proposal to the Housing Authority of the City of Brownsville (HACB) representatives at an event held at Poinsettia Gardens housing complex in Brownsville.

The students’ project proposal includes plans for a studying area, a green space, parking, playgrounds, and creating modern and practical mixed-use development. The aim is to bring the space back to life with funding assistance from a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant.

“This program at Texas Southmost College has been a great overall experience,” TSC architecture program graduate Ernesto Garcia said. “I learned a lot about architectural programs and architectural practices. It’s helped me better understand the field, the time commitment, and how to pace ourselves.”

TSC is the only college in South Texas offering an Associate of Science in architecture. The students graduated Saturday, May 13.

TSC architecture students gather for a group photo during a design proposal service-learning project presentation for the redevelopment of the Buena Vida neighborhood in Brownsvillel to the Housing Authority of the City of Brownsville (HACB). (Courtesy photo)

Administration from HACB, including Board Chairman Eduardo Garduño and CEO Carla Mancha, and professional architects in The American Institute of Architects Lower Rio Grande Valley Chapter attended the event. Buena Vida residents were also in attendance representing a citizen’s committee tasked with giving input on reconstruction.

Architecture students stood alongside their color-coded poster board presentations that were full of renderings of what Buena Vida could look like.

“The process was quite difficult; it requires a lot of thought and work to be put in,” TSC architecture program graduate Irais Valdez said. “The beginning, creating the floorplan, is the hardest part. That is where the most thought and effort goes in because it determines the rest of the project.”

Texas Southmost College adjunct architecture instructor Jesse Miller said that it is helpful for students to get feedback from designers, architects, engineers, and people outside of the design community.

“The students have done a great job with their designs, but being a good communicator is just as important,” Miller said. “Being communicative is one of the most important parts of being an architect.”

A Texas Southmost College architecture program graduate presents during a design proposal service learning project presentation for the redevelopment of the Buena Vida neighborhood in Brownsville. The project’s aim is to bring the Buena Vida neighborhood back to life. (Courtesy photo)

Along with guiding the students through the semester-long project, Miller serves as Vice Chairman of the Housing Authority of Brownsville Board of Commissioners and is President of The American Institute of Architects Lower Rio Grande Valley Chapter.

“It’s always nice to have feedback from people high-up in architecture this early on in our careers,” Garcia, who is the Vice President of The American Institute of Architects Lower Rio Grande Valley Student Chapter, said.

“The program, our instructors, brings these people to us and gives us the opportunity to work with groups like the Housing Authority or to work on impactful projects like the TSC Community Garden.”

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