Litigation Update: New evidence received from McLane Stadium architect shows it was not necessary to demolish Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center

January 12, 2016

Aug. 6, 2012: Internal Populous memos say keeping the Alumni Center "can work"

Original Populous plans and renderings show Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center did not need to be demolished.

“[The Stadium Project] will require removal of the Hughes-Dillard Center this summer in order to make way for the approach to the stadium.”  Baylor President Ken Starr Letter to Baylor Nation, June 10, 2013. [LINK]

“Populous, our renowned architectural firm, has been insistent in its judgment that Baylor Stadium needs to include a grand pathway…. A sidewalk circumventing Hughes-Dillard is not functional because it would not accommodate the large number of people walking to and from the stadium.”  Baylor President Ken Starr Letter to Baylor Nation, July 11, 2013 [LINK]

“Again and again we have considered the exact location for the access point connecting the stadium to the campus….  The only option available to us is at the current site of the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center building.”  Drayton McLane Guest Column in the July 28, 2013 Waco Trib, which was written for McLane by the Baylor PR department. [LINK]

“heres (sic) the site plan keeping the alumni center.  We need to work out more details but it can work.”  August 6, 2012 Email from Populous Landscape Architect Kobi Bradley to Populous Architect Earl Santee.  [LINK]

On Sunday, July 28, 2013, Baylor began tearing down the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center, the Baylor Alumni Association’s on-campus headquarters.  Baylor leaders maintain that the demolition of the BAA’s on-campus headquarters was not related to Baylor’s efforts to (in their words) “put the BAA out of business.” [LINK to August Litigation Update] Rather, Baylor leaders have insisted that the McLane Stadium project required demolition of Hughes-Dillard and that there was no other choice but to demolish Hughes-Dillard based on the recommendation of Populous, Baylor’s architect on the stadium project.

I am writing to you today to share e-mails and architectural drawings that we have only recently been able to obtain from Populous. I believe these e-mails and drawings, along with previously available evidence, illustrate beyond reasonable dispute that Baylor’s leaders have not been truthful with the Baylor family in their claims about the decision to demolish Hughes-Dillard.  We are continuing today our practice of providing you with the documents so that you can decide for yourself.

Background: What We Already Knew and What We Did Not Previously Know

You will recall that previously-disclosed emails show that Baylor’s Board of Regents (“BOR”) made the decision to demolish Hughes-Dillard at the November 3-4, 2011, BOR meeting.  [LINK to Decision Made on HD].  Throughout 2011, Ken Starr’s administration was implementing a strategy to put the BAA “out of business.”  [LINK to August Litigation Update]  In April 2012, Baylor’s Vice President in charge of alumni relations, Tommye Lou Davis, e-mailed Regent Buddy Jones about her “hate” for the BAA and how she could not wait to tear down the Hughes-Dillard building.  “If it is tied to the stadium, few will complain!:-) How sweet it will be!” wrote Davis.  [LINK to How Sweet It Will Be]

Although Baylor claims to have based the demolition of Hughes-Dillard on a recommendation from its architect Populous, neither Baylor nor Populous has produced any written recommendation, analysis, or evaluation identifying a need or justification for razing Hughes-Dillard. Baylor President Ken Starr testified in his deposition last month that he was not aware of any written recommendation, analysis or explanation of a need to demolish Hughes-Dillard that Baylor ever received from Populous.

Consider that for a moment.  Baylor made a decision to tear down a multi-million dollar asset, an important campus building with deep meaning to alumni, which had been built and renovated over the years from donations of loyal alumni. Baylor claims demolition was necessary based on a recommendation from its architect. And yet there was apparently no written recommendation, no analysis of the reasons demolition was necessary, and no study of alternatives.  We now know there were alternatives contemplated by the architects that would and should have left Hughes-Dillard standing had it not been the agenda of the Board of Regents to marginalize the BAA and “put it out of business.”

The site of the former Hughes Dillard Alumni Center housed a single tailgate tent during football season

The site of the former Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center housed a single tailgate tent during football season

To what use has Baylor put the land under Hughes-Dillard?  Alumni walking or driving by the former site of Hughes-Dillard can see with their own eyes that what remains on the footprint of the former Hughes-Dillard are the live oak trees that once lined its front entrance and an empty grass field where Baylor tries to rent out a single tailgate tent on football game days. There is no plaza, as Baylor once claimed there would be.

New Evidence: Populous’s Initial Drawings Did NOT Show Hughes-Dillard Removed or Foot Traffic Through the Hughes-Dillard Area.

The documents we have received from Populous show that, under Populous’s initial renderings, foot traffic flowed primarily on the east side of the Mayborn – the opposite side of the Mayborn from Hughes-Dillard.  Those renderings do not contemplate the demolition of Hughes-Dillard.  Then, approximately one week before the Baylor Regents’ meeting at which the decision to demolish Hughes-Dillard was made, a mysterious late-night change that appears to have been conceived by Baylor employee Brian Nicholson resulted in a map showing “new green space” (not a plaza or grand entryway) on the site of Hughes-Dillard.

Please do not take my word for it. Consider the following evidence. You can click on the bold-faced, underlined links to see the documents referenced.  For the ease of reviewing the maps, we have indicated on a few of these documents where Hughes-Dillard is on the map. In each case, we have put a yellow circle around the Hughes-Dillard site and a yellow rectangle around the proposed footbridge to show you how Populous envisioned the pedestrian traffic flow.  All other markings on the documents are original.

  • October 18, 2011: Populous’s landscape architect Kobi Bradley’s rendering shows the foot bridge landing where it currently does, but foot traffic flowing behind and to the east of the Mayborn Museum (the opposite side of the Mayborn from Hughes-Dillard building). The rendering shows the entryway to the main campus crossing University Parks in front of the Mayborn into Baylor Avenue. The plan shows Hughes-Dillard being unaffected.  [LINK to Exhibit 323]
  • October 26, 2011, 3:54 p.m.: Landscape architect Kobi Bradley sends out another set of plans.  Again, these plans show the foot traffic flowing on the other side of the Mayborn and do not show Hughes-Dillard being affected in any way. [LINK to Exhibit 324]
  • October 26, 2011, 6:17 pm: Populous is now creating color renderings, apparently in preparation for the November 3 and 4 Baylor Board of Regents meeting. These renderings also show Hughes-Dillard unaffected.  The best illustration of how foot traffic is not flowing through the Hughes-Dillard area is on the last page of the document. [LINK to Exhibit 325]
  • October 26, 2011, 9:48 pm: Just over three hours later, Kobi Bradley sends Baylor Construction Manager Brian Nicholson a completely different concept. It shows for the first time Hughes-Dillard being razed to provide “new open space” – not a plaza and not a “grand entrance” as Baylor has consistently claimed as the “need” to raze Hughes-Dillard. [LINK to Exhibit 326]  Evidencing that Populous is now sending Baylor a Baylor-conceived design, the Populous Landscape architect asks Baylor’s Nicholson to “clarify my thinking for me.” The Populous architect asks Nicholson, “Do you want me to keep some parking in the area shown or nuke the lot that’s there?”   Tellingly, the new drawing, showing Hughes-Dillard being razed, still shows the crosswalks across University Parks in front of the Mayborn, not in front of Hughes-Dillard.  Does it make sense for Populous to be asking Baylor whether Baylor wants to “nuke” the parking lot behind Hughes-Dillard if Populous’s intent was to create on the Hughes-Dillard site a plaza and grand pathway as Baylor has long contended?  The very drawing where Hughes-Dillard is first shown as being razed does not even change the path of the foot traffic from Bradley’s earlier drawings in which Hughes-Dillard was unaffected.
  • August 6, 2012: Nine months later, with Baylor now facing scrutiny over the potential demolition of Hughes-Dillard (but with Baylor still saying it had not made a decision), Populous records show beyond any doubt that it was not necessary to demolish Hughes-Dillard.  In an August 6, 2012 email, with the subject “heres (sic) the site plan keeping the alumni center,” Populous’s landscape architect Kobi Bradley says of the plan to keep Hughes-Dillard, “We need to work out more details, but it can work.”  Attached to the email is the site plan keeping Hughes-Dillard.  [LINK to Exhibit 327]  What is most striking about the attached plan is it is essentially the plan as it exists today. The foot traffic today does not direct across the footprint of the Hughes-Dillard building. The sidewalks flank the footprint of the former Hughes-Dillard very much as shown in Populous’s August 2012 plan “keeping the alumni center.”  Baylor essentially adopted Populous’s “keeping the alumni center” plan, but did not keep the alumni center.

Ken Starr testified on this situation in his deposition, which was taken on December 16, 2015.  I am not allowed to directly quote him as we wait for Baylor to decide what parts of that testimony Baylor considers confidential. But I can say that there is no evidence that President Starr asked to see and never asked Populous to consider designs that would have preserved Hughes-Dillard. This is consistent with the testimony in 2013 of Populous’s architect Earl Santee, who testified in federal court that nobody at Baylor asked Populous to consider alternatives to demolishing Hughes-Dillard.

Conclusion

Baylor’s primary claim in this lawsuit is that the perpetual agreements written by Baylor’s lawyers, signed by Baylor’s then-President Herbert Reynolds and BAA officials, affirmed down the years by a generation of boards of regents, and honored by the BAA was invalid 30 seconds after it was signed.  The BAA asks only that Baylor University honor its word.

The documents we share today are important to the legal claims and defenses in the case.  These and other documents show beyond reasonable dispute that Baylor’s leaders sought to (in their own words) “put the BAA out of business.” I believe these e-mails and drawings show that Baylor’s leaders were willing, in their efforts to drive the BAA out of existence, to use the popular, wonderful stadium project as a subterfuge to demolish the Hughes-Dillard building, which was constructed by donations from many of you.

I welcome your thoughts either in the Comments section of this post below or through an e-mail to me at tom@bayloralumniassociation.com.  Please remember that you must identify yourself and be respectful to other parties or we will not post your comment.  Thanks.

Sincerely,

Tom Nesbitt ‘94

President, Baylor Alumni Association

 

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