A design concept of an on-campus memorial that reflects the rich history of Texas A&M landed four College of Architecture seniors a spot as finalists in an elite national challenge hosted by Walt Disney Imagineering, the group that designs Disney theme parks, resorts, cruise ships and other attractions.

Environmental design seniors Kennedy Behling and Abby Zuber and visualization seniors Cecilia Gonzalez and Abby Henning went to Glendale, Calif., as part of an all-expenses-paid trip to present their project to Disney executives for the 2020 Imaginations Design Competition.

During their Jan. 13-17, 2020 trip, they also met with Disney designers, interviewed for internships and went behind the scenes to see how Disney magic is created.

In the contest, students were tasked with creating an iconic installation in their campus or city that serves as an inspiration, honors the past and is a vision of the future. It should respect the place’s geography, traditions and be a gathering spot for the community.

The College of Architecture team collaborated on “Here,” a memorial for Texas A&M that celebrates the sense of home current and former students feel on campus.

“’Here’ is a place where current, former and future students can gather to relax, reflect and remember the Aggies who came before them,” said the project brief. “On a sunny day, students can be found lounging on grass steps in the outer rings of the installation, utilizing the space for studying, socializing and leisure. As guests enter the central bronze structure, they find themselves in a space of reflection, where a magical moment awaits. Once the sun sets, the installation is transformed into a glowing symbol of the strength and warmth of the Aggie spirit.”

The four women are the first Texas A&M team to ever make it to the finalist level in the competition’s 29-year history and were up against five other finalist teams vying for cash prizes and bragging rights.

Other finalist projects

  • “Bound” (University of North Carolina School of the Arts), a project that focuses on the pivotal story of the Happy Hill community and its strides forward into the future by students.
  • “Laguna Beach Artist Homestead” (Laguna College of Art and Design), a whimsical reimagining of the historic Laguna Artist colony which would eventually become the city of Laguna Beach.
  • “Savannah Chora” (Savannah College of Art and Design), an experience hosted by the Girl Scouts in the city where they were founded.
  • “Starboard Port” (United States Naval Academy), an installation raised off the coast of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., the “Sailing Capital of the World.”
  • “Urban Jewel” (Savannah College of Art and Design), which restores and modernizes a lost public square in Savannah, Ga.

For more information, contact rnira@arch.tamu.edu or doswald@tamu.edu.