Sasaki has a rich, enduring relationship with St. Edward's University. In 2003, Sasaki prepared a landscape master plan for the university, and updated the university's campus facilities master plan in 2005 and 2011. During this period, Sasaki also collaborated to provide landscape design services related to all new buildings and building renovations, as well as general landscape improvements. New construction has amounted to approximately 500,000 square feet of new residential, dining, and academic space, constituting more than $150 million in campus improvements. Sasaki's local landscape architect sub-consultant, RVi Planning, has been instrumental in achieving the campus improvements. Sasaki also designed the new learning commons expansion to the university library and master planned the university's athletic and recreation facilities. This eight-year collaboration has resulted in a campus known for quality architecture and inviting, regionally appropriate landscape.
The compact development pattern of the campus is attractive, practical, and respects the history of the university's dramatic hilltop site. It provides modern facilities in an environment that is responsive to the climatic conditions of Austin and fosters a tangible sense of community. In the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), St. Edward's University exceeded the national average on all five benchmarks, including academic challenge, collaborative learning, student-faculty interactions, enriching educational experiences, and supportive campus environment.
Respect for the natural environment is built into the campus plan through the protection of important natural areas, the use of native savanna and grassland plant communities to structure the campus plantings, and management of rain water and irrigation water in the landscape. Stormwater infiltration landscapes associated with surface parking lots—the first of their kind in Austin—have now become a model for city projects.
Sasaki also performed a comprehensive facilities needs assessment which was fundamental in identifying the condition of existing space and the future space needs of the university to meet its program and mission goals. The planning process involved a close working relationship between Sasaki and the office of the provost, as well as all other non-academic units of the university community. The process consisted of iterative sessions focused on matching educational goals with real facility needs. Sasaki conducted peer comparisons and measurement against normative standards. A key conclusion of the space assessment was a practical plan for the renovation and reuse of over 80,000 square feet of building space that was previously considered for removal.