Landscape architect and visual artist chosen to redesign Tower Garden at The University of Texas at Austin

AUSTIN, Texas—Landscape architect Eleanor H. McKinney, ASLA, and visual artist Jill Bedgood have been appointed by Dr. Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin, to work as a team in the design of a memorial and its surroundings at the campus area known as the Tower Garden.

The Tower Garden just north of the Tower and Main Building is a tree-covered grassy area that in 1999 was designated as a special place of recognition of those who died and others whose lives were touched by the Aug. 1, 1966 shooting by Charles Whitman from the Tower.

McKinney and Bedgood will strive to find ways to preserve the integrity of current uses for the site while also creating a space for an appropriate memorial. The garden is used for teaching and research but also is a popular site for members of the university community and visitors to rest, study, enjoy the greenery and ponds and to engage in quiet reflection or conversation. Dedication of the memorial in the Tower Garden is planned for Aug. 1, 2003, the 37th anniversary of the tragic shooting event.

“The Tower Garden Design Selection Committee invited 58 artists from around Texas to submit their qualifications for consideration,” said Professor Neal Armstrong, committee chair. “The committee received proposals from 22 artists in response to this invitation. After careful review of the artists' slides and written statements, the committee selected four, highly qualified finalists: Jill Bedgood, Damian Priour, Regina Vater and Mel Ziegler, all of Austin. The committee then interviewed each of the four finalists and recommended the selection of Jill Bedgood to President Faulkner.”

McKinney and Bedgood, both of Austin, will work collaboratively to design the Tower Garden Memorial, integrating the landscape of the entire site with the commemorative aspects of the memorial. They also will work in close cooperation with the Tower Garden Design Selection Committee, a committee of faculty, staff and student and community representatives appointed by Faulkner to oversee the development of the memorial object for the Tower Garden.

The renovation of the Tower Garden is expected to occur in three phases and the university has allocated $200,000 for the initial phase of the project.

McKinney has long been associated with The University of Texas at Austin, having been graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in botany. In the mid-1990s she was one of the associate landscape architects to Cesar Pelli and Associates on the university's Campus Master Plan. McKinney's projects include serving as the sub-consultant landscape architect for the City of Austin Great Streets Master Plan. With McKinney-Kelley Joint Venture, she is the prime consultant for the Remembrance Gardens at Riverbend, as well as the sub-consultant for the new Austin City Hall.

As project landscape architect for J.R. Anderson, ASLA, McKinney collaborated in the design and construction of the 42-acre Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center that received the prestigious National Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. McKinney is a member of the city of Austin Design Commission and has served as an adviser and juror for the city of Austin Art in Public Places Program. She received her master's degree in landscape architecture from Texas AandM University in 1989.

Over the past 20 years Bedgood's artwork, which has been widely exhibited in museums and galleries across Texas, has addressed a variety of social and human concerns. In addition to her studio work, Bedgood's prior public art commissions include projects at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Austin Convention Center, South Austin Senior Citizens Activities Center and Zilker Park. She has taught for many years as an adjunct faculty member at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos and Southwestern University in Georgetown. She also was a visiting artist in residence in sculpture at the University of Tennessee during the 1999-2000 academic year.

In 1989, Bedgood was one of three artists in Texas awarded the Mid-America Arts Alliance/National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Award in Sculpture. Most recently Bedgood, along with another local artist, was awarded a Resident Fellowship at the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy. Bedgood received her master of fine arts degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 1983 and her bachelor of fine arts degree from Louisiana State University in 1976.

The Tower Garden is the site each May for UT Remembers, a memorial ceremony honoring the current students, faculty and staff, and retired faculty and staff, who died during the past year. The goal of the Tower Garden Memorial is to provide a space that will evoke feelings of serenity, healing, renewal, community and peace.

For more information, contact Armstrong at (512) 471-7995