Chapter 17: Overview:  A Plan for South Campus [Research Park]

Chapter 17: Overview: A Plan for South Campus [Research Park]



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Mr. Daigneau sketches the plan to develop a research park (referred to as Research Park or South Campus) on 100 acres of land along Old Spanish Trail south of Main Campus, beginning with a research building. He first explains conversations with the Texas Medical Center and with the National Guard to acquire the land and explains how he used a model of a research park at University of Massachusetts at Amherst to develop the MD Anderson model. This involved finding other institutions to collaborate on developing the site. He also describes his concept of a 20-year building, which was the model he selected for Research Building 1, the first to be constructed on the site.



Publication Date



The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Building the Institution; The Administrator; MD Anderson History; Institutional Processes; Discovery and Success; Building/Transforming the Institution; Growth and/or Change; Obstacles, Challenges; Professional Practice; The Professional at Work; MD Anderson in the Future

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History


Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Yeah, the whole Main, Mid, and South Campuses.

William Daigneau, MBA:

Okay. So let's jump to South Campus. So originally there were 100 acres purchased by the UT System, and that 100-acre parcel part of it was used to build the RE Bob" Smith Research Building, which housed basically Dr. [Isaiah J.] Fidler's [Oral History Interview] program, as well as" it was" at one time, Physical Plant had offices there, as well as" and the UT Police Office was there. When Dr. Mendelsohn arrived, he looked at that parcel of land and had discussions with Dr. [Walter R.] Lowe at UT Health Science Center, who operated basically graduate student housing out there, as well as had a recreation center" the possibility of using that land for a research park" not of" of the size of the ones in North Carolina, obviously, where they have 1,000 acres, but something at least would be available for research startups, et cetera. When he proposed the idea, it was obviously a great idea" how do we get it started? So one of our tasks" my task was basically to create a development plan as a research park for that 100 acres. So a couple of things evolved from that. Number one, we had" we had" when I got there, I had been talking to National Guard, because they had a corner" piece of the corner property about possibly acquiring that, and I forget where they were" but we finally did contract for that South Campus [also called Research Park] and were able to purchase that" that corner property. Next door to the National Guard was the Army Reserve and the Navy/Marine Reserves. They both had headquarters there and their own buildings there.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Now was this" this was adjacent to the parcel that the Texas" ?

William Daigneau, MBA:

South Campus" adjacent to the 100 acres. It basically fronted" what was that" use my" Old Spanish Trail. Yeah, if you look" here's the RE Bob" Smith Research Building. There's the Physical Plant Building, where I said UTPD and Physical Plant"

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

And just for the recorder right now, we're looking at a map, and I'll provide a copy of that.

William Daigneau, MBA:

So this was 100 acres basically" it was owned by the" here's the graduate housing for UT"

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Okay, and that's right at the bottom of the map.

William Daigneau, MBA:

Yup. There's their Recreation Center. So all of this was open land at the time, except for the Army Reserve, which was here, and the Navy/Marines Reserve, which was there" all owned by UT. So when Dr. Mendelsohn proposed Research Park, we had already had discussions from the National Guard about acquiring this corner, which we successfully got. So a number of things went on on the South Campus. Number one, we had to create a development plan for it. How would we use it as Research Park? So myself, Susan Lipka, a few others got on a plane. We looked at about four different research parks in the country, including North Carolina, but the one that kind of stood out as most practical for us that UMass/Amherst, where they had the medical center, and there they had a small research park, and we looked at the layout of the research park. It was modest. I think it maybe could support four buildings or five buildings, which they had largely built. We looked at their model for those research buildings, and it just seemed to fit well for what we were trying to do. So what happened to us was we basically had a firm" planning firm subdivide the 100 acres using the UMass model and thus was born South Campus Research Building 1. If you go to UMass Research Park, you'll see a building that looks pretty darn similar to that.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Oh really? Wow.

William Daigneau, MBA:

And here was the concept of that building. Yeah, it was 100 acres we had, and it" like land" you're looking out there. There's all of this land to develop. Gosh, we were land rich, so let's build something substantial. Up here, we were land poor, so I told you the Mitchell Building was designed for fifty years and the fact we're never coming back and redoing that again" this building had to be very substantial and permanent" very flexible. Out here, we had wide open spaces. We don't have to build like that. The philosophy was" I use this term the twenty-year building. Dr. Mendelsohn would always say, You mean this building's only going to last twenty years?" No. What I mean is in twenty years, we'll get our maximum use out of it, and if the right decision is" because this park has been so successful, we should scrape that building and build something more substantial in it, economically it will make sense to do it. That's what I mean by twenty-year building. So basically that was the philosophy of that first building" something that was not as costly. It was actually about half the price of Mitchell on a per square-foot basis. It was cheaper to build, less substantial, but in twenty years if you said to yourself, You know, I want to put a building twice this size up there," you can afford to do it, because you've gotten the maximum value out of the building. So that was the philosophy we followed basically in developing" if you look at the original master plan for the Research Park, all of them are footprints roughly the size of that first building laid out along this road, et cetera.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D:

Interesting. Let's pause for just a sec. (End of Audio Session One)

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Chapter 17: Overview:  A Plan for South Campus [Research Park]