During a five-year period from 1928 to 1933, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas underwent a building program that dramatically changed the face of campus. Masterminds Frederick Giesecke, chief campus architect, and Samuel Charles Phelps Vosper, chief designer, constructed 10 buildings at a cost of approximately $3 million.
The new facilities not only added learning and residential spaces, but also physically reoriented campus. With the construction of the Administration Building (named in 1998 for Texas A&M University President Jack K. Williams), campus’ main entrance turned eastward toward a new state highway instead of westward toward the train station.
Remarkably, all 10 buildings remain, a testament to both their appeal and quality. Each has a unique flair, but all contain Depression-era architectural remnants—from detailed cast stone reliefs and finely crafted exterior ironwork to colorful tiles, decorative plaster work and richly painted interior spaces.
Giesecke graduated first in his class from Texas A&M in 1886 with a degree in mechanical engineering and joined the faculty that same year, at the age of 17. Two years later, he was named head of the department of mechanical drawing. He left to study at Cornell University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois before returning to Texas A&M in 1905 to head the university’s first architecture program. In 1910, he designed the first campus plan and introduced classicism as the preferred style for campus buildings, replacing the earlier Victorian style structures. He left in 1912 to serve as the second head of architectural engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, where he remained for 15 years. In 1927, with oil revenue available for a building program on the Texas A&M campus, Giesecke returned to College Station to lead construction.
Vosper, a Pratt Institute and Columbia University graduate who taught architecture for five years with Giesecke in Austin, joined Giesecke at Texas A&M in 1928 to lead the design of the buildings.
Here’s a look at their creations.