In 1923 Lubbock triumphed over thirty-six other towns competing to become the site of the state’s new West Texas technological college. Over two thousand acres of land west of the city were sold to the state, and a campus master plan was undertaken. The architects for the initial development were Sanguinet, Staats and Hedrick of Fort Worth, one of the largest firms in the state, and William Ward Watkin of Houston. Watkin designed the master plan and was responsible for defining the Spanish Renaissance architectural style governing the campus’s development. Watkin, who came to Houston in 1910 from Boston to supervise construction of the Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson buildings for Rice Institute (now Rice University), remained to teach at Rice and establish his practice in Houston. Watkin’s familiarity with large-scale planning made him an obvious choice to undertake Texas Tech’s plan.
Watkin’s plan for Texas Tech displays his knowledge of formal, axial planning on a scale that is even more expansive than at Rice. The main entrance at Broadway and University Avenue constitutes the campus’s east–west cross axis, which leads via a broad landscaped esplanade, Amon G. Carter Plaza (named for the Fort Worth entrepreneur who was the first chair of Tech’s board of regents), west toward Memorial Circle. From the circle the main axis extends north along Boston Avenue to the Engineering group, while the cross axis continues west to the (original) Library and Science group. The Administration Building faces directly onto the circle from the south. This building, along with Textile Engineering and Home Economics, constituted the entire campus when Texas Tech opened in 1925. These structures, designed by Watkin and Sanguinet, Staats and Hedrick, established the Spanish Renaissance style that prevailed on the campus until the 1960s and then made a disquieting comeback in the early twenty-first century.