The University of Texas was established by the Texas legislature in 1881 and opened in 1883 with 8 faculty and 218 students on a forty-acre site north of the capitol. The first master plan was developed about 1910 under the direction of Cass Gilbert of New York City, one of the leading architects of the early twentieth century. Serving as consulting architect to the university from 1910 to 1922, Gilbert introduced a Beaux-Arts axial plan for the campus replete with monumental buildings that defined public spaces and classroom environments. He established the Spanish Mediterranean style for the campus buildings and designed one of the finest, Battle Hall ( AU41.3).
In 1930, the university commissioned Paul P. Cret of Philadelphia as successor to Gilbert. Cret's classical training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris continued the formalism of the campus plan through 1945, adding nineteen buildings. Much of the current plan is credited to Cret, whose work set the tone for a sophisticated campus environment of courtyards and gardens, though many of his building designs were not realized. The central campus (there are other branches scattered around Austin) has grown to more than three hundred and fifty acres and accommodates 50,000 students.