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Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center (Laredo Blueprint Demonstration Farm)

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Laredo Blueprint Demonstration Farm
1990, Pliny Fisk III and the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems. Taylor Rd. at Sherman Rd.
  • (Photograph by Gerald Moorhead)

The main attraction of the fort may well be the former experimental farm project. Located near the Rio Grande, the set of buildings and agricultural fields were originally intended to serve as examples of sustainable development, economically and ecologically, in a region of high population growth with limited resources.

Composed of five cubic sheds, the units were built of stacked bales of hay covered with sprayed concrete and topped by pyramidal roofs culminating in evaporative cooling towers. In the courtyard created by the clustered units, cisterns collected roof water, much in the same manner found historically in the region where scarce water was stored in underground, dome-shaped, stone-lined aljibes, or wells.

Extending beyond the sheds, a grid of twenty-four-foot-high steel pipe columns held polyester canopies to shade experimental crops from the intense summer heat. To irrigate the fields, water was drawn from the Rio Grande by pumps powered by four wind turbines. Abandoned within a year of its promising inauguration due to conflicting local and external agendas, the rehabilitated facility, now with air-conditioned interiors, serves as a science facility for Laredo Community College.

North of the former demonstration farm, a dirt road—rebuilt by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s—leads to the original star-shaped earthen fort set above a fifty-foot bluff overlooking the Rio Grande.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


What's Nearby


Gerald Moorhead et al., "Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center (Laredo Blueprint Demonstration Farm)", [Laredo, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: Central, South, and Gulf Coast, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 274-275.

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