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Open Concept - The TCU Way

Guest Post: Sarah Somers, Interior Designer at Hahnfeld Hoffer Stanford

The corner office used to symbolize power and prestige. Today, however, many organizations are shifting from a hierarchical office arrangement to a more open environment that embraces collaboration, resource sharing, and team building.


When it came to designing TCU’s new Administration Building, the design team spent the summer of 2018 engaging end-users for this new space by touring different office environments, engaging in space planning, and gathering feedback on staff members’ specific needs and desires for their new space.


Research consistently supports the fact that open office design provides several health benefits. Not only does the layout of an open space encourage greater physical activity, but it also allows more natural light into the space, which has been shown to encourage greater productivity. The absence of walls enhances indoor air quality, too, by increasing airflow. In addition, every workspace in the new Admin Building will feature sit-to-stand desks, giving employees greater flexibility to control their own comfort and to reduce the amount of sedentary time during the workday.


The real beauty of the new Admin Building, though, is that it marries the best of both worlds – the open and the more private. Private spaces still exist, and collaborative spaces abound. When we set out to design the space, we conducted hundreds of interviews to ensure everybody’s voice was heard and varying opinions were considered. The result is a space that features a blend of work zones, personal space and communal areas, all customized to TCU’s end users and the unique TCU culture.

Julia Ong
I’ve "bin" waiting for this

Guest Post: Brian Gutierrez

You may have noticed large trash bins in the stairwells of Sadler Hall. Although we are not moving until the end of summer 2020, these bins are in place for the eager beavers who want to take advantage of the summer and clean their workspace. The containers, which are now labeled, are for disposing of books, journals, empty binders and other non-furnishing or equipment items that you no longer need.

Please do not use these bins to dispose of reports, documents or electronic storage devices containing sensitive and personal information—aka SPI—including an individual’s name, address or telephone number combined with information such as Social Security number, credit/debit card number, financial/salary data or driver license number. Secure containers for these materials will be made available in the coming weeks.

A complete list of confidential data is available in TCU’s Sensitive Personal Information Policy, and Yohna Chambers, vice chancellor for Human Resources, is heading up a committee that will provide additional guidance about archiving and records retention. In the meantime, feel to pitch the maps, bobble-heads and the old Rubik’s cube that couldn’t be put back together.


Shelley Hulme
To keep or not to keep, that is the question

While you’re working this summer to whittle down your collection of binders, outdated journals and other non-essential items, keep in mind that you may also have things that the TCU Archives and Historical Collection wants. This collection, designed to chronicle the full history of the university, already includes papers and correspondence of Horned Frogs including presidents, chancellors, chief administrative officers, professors and students.

Before you decide to toss an item, it might be worth checking on whether it’s suitable for the collection. All you have to do is set it aside and contact the Special Collections team – they’ll handle the rest. Keep reading for more information from Senior Archivist Mary Saffell about items of interest for the collection.

Records Appropriate for the TCU Archives

Any materials that give evidence of the history and development of the university, whether physically or otherwise, are appropriate for the archives.


  • minutes/correspondence

  • memoranda

  • reports and supporting documentation (including accreditation, financial, grants and annual reports)

  • administrative files and strategic planning documents

  • subject files

  • budgets

  • speeches (recorded or printed)

  • policy and procedure manuals

  • faculty/staff and student handbooks

  • printed materials (publications distributed in the name of TCU, including catalogs, newsletters, press releases and event programs, posters and other visual media promoting university and events, tickets, brochures, postcards, flyers, examples of stationery)

  • maps, prints architectural drawings

  • photographs, negatives, slides, audio and video film, tapes and reels, oral history interviews, and optical and compact discs

  • organizational charts for the university and departments

The items below are generally not accepted, but, when in doubt, send them:

Bank statements, bills, invoices, purchase orders, receipts, textbooks, research notes, payroll or personnel records (check with HR before disposal), student records containing Personally Identifiable Information or class information, individual Skiff issues or clippings, yearbooks published after 1925, work orders, office supplies, faculty tenure and promotion documents, search committee/hiring documents, plaques.

Have questions? Contact Special Collections at extension 4566 or via email at libspecialcollections@tcu.edu.

Shelley Hulme
This point in a construction project is my favorite

Guest Post: Brooke Ruesch

I love my job; I really do!

The people who make projects like the new Administration Building a reality truly impress me. The amount of effort, coordination and teamwork that is required by our design team and our contractors is incredibly inspiring. The plan that our team has worked so hard to develop is starting to take shape and progress is visible.

You will probably hear me say this a few times throughout the project, but this point in a construction project is my favorite! 

Are you interested in getting a glimpse into the coordination and processes that have gotten us to this point in construction? You may be surprised to discover that the extensive effort our design team goes through to coordinate multiple scopes of work is expanded upon by our contractor.  

Contractors take the design team’s building model, add in conditions such as existing utilities that have been discovered, plus data including building dimensions and utility routes from their subcontractors to identify and work through potential issues before they occur on the job site. This process, which uses Building Information Modeling technology, is called Clash Detection, an incredibly valuable tool that helps us check both completed and ongoing work to reduce the risk of human error.

I’ve included a couple of snapshots of what this could look like here:


The screenshots were taken during one of our Clash Detection meetings to show how we will coordinate the existing utilities, new utilities and new structure. Each utility has a unique color that helps us identify each line in the model. If a clash—aka conflict—is detected between any of these components, our team finds solutions to fix the problem before we begin the installation.

Also of interest are components of the building’s structure: 

  • 225 piers, each drilled at an average of 18 feet deep

  • 89 structural columns

  • 4,650 yards of concrete

  • 520 tons of rebar

Add to this list, the number of people—subcontractors, contract managers, design teams and other consultants—who have spent (and will spend) countless hours to make this building a reality, and you begin to understand the breadth of this exciting project.

Speaking on behalf of all of these hard-working individuals, we hope that this exceptional Administration Building will inspire you to thrive at your job; it is an honor to serve TCU.


Julia Ong
Making the most of the Town Square

Forget the idea of working through lunch while eating at your desk—office dining areas, like the Town Square, create the perfect space for both impromptu and purposeful meetings and provide a more comfortable place to enjoy your lunch.

The Town Square is a space designed to facilitate socializing, relaxing and, of course, eating. Here’s a handful of ways you can use the area:

1.    Get a cup of coffee with a friend or colleague —Show off your barista skills as you grab a cup of joe from the high-end coffee machine, then enjoy it over a chat.

2.    Have impromptu meetings, catch up on the news or cheer the Horned Frogs to victory against a rival team—cable-ready TVs, including a few that can display an image from your mobile device to facilitate collaboration and feedback, will adorn the walls of the dining area.

3.    Enjoy the view—Need a change of scenery? Windows in the Town Square will overlook the plaza and fountain area near West Berry Street, and the variety of seating options (individual booths, family-style tables and lounge areas) provide plenty of flexible seating for you to spread out, relax, work and eat.

4.    Eat your leftovers, for a change—We’re eliminating an excuse for not eating leftovers by incorporating three full-sized refrigerators to accommodate drinks and meals, and four microwaves to heat (or reheat) your food.

5.    Make new friends—This space is intended for mingling, so sit, talk, mix and mingle when you need a quick break from the task at hand. The Town Square is an essential ingredient for enriching our collaborative culture.

Elizabeth Braun
Here's a shuttle, there's a shuttle!

TCU is not immune to parking challenges. Even though we have more than 10,000 available parking spaces on campus to meet the needs of 9,000 Horned Frogs with parking permits, this parking is concentrated on the west side of campus, rather than the academic side that’s of particular interest to commuters, faculty and a growing number of visitors. The university continues to add parking lots as building projects, like the new Administration Building, transform our geographic footprint. These lots are being located at the perimeter of campus as we continue efforts to create a pedestrian-friendly environment.

The on-campus shuttle system is a convenient, safe and affordable—it’s free to use—transportation solution for faculty, staff and students, and the new Administration Building allows us the opportunity to expand shuttle services and improve customer service. Highlights of recent and upcoming shuttle support are as follows:

  • The university has increased its number of active shuttles from 10 to 14 and added a new yellow line, which adds service to the new Human Resources location on the south side of West Berry Street.

  • The TCU shuttle app, TransLoc Rider, is available for free download from the App Store or Google Play; the parking and shuttle information on maps.tcu.edu is routinely updated; and you may call TCU Police at 817-257-7777 for assistance with campus shuttles.

  • The new Administration Building will feature monitors, much like those in the library and Neeley School of Business, that display the GPS location of each shuttle in real time. University leadership is considering similar technology for the Frog Alley Parking Garage.

“Our goal is to make the shuttle system as efficient as possible, and we’re currently working with an outside consultant to identify opportunities to increase transportation efficiency and shuttle usage,” said DeAnn Jones, director of Parking and Transportation. “We are using feedback from new shuttle users—those who have changed parking lots as we prepare for the new Administration Building—and insight from the Parking & Shuttling Transition Team to help guide the process.”

We encourage you to share your ideas for the shuttle system by completing the simple form on the Contacts tab.

Elizabeth Braun
Start spring off right by organizing your space

Kick off your spring cleaning by organizing your workspace. A disorganized desk can result in an hour and a half of lost productivity each day, according to Donald E. Wetmore, founder of the Productivity Institute. Conversely, a well-organized workspace can help you feel more in control and eliminate distractions—positioning you for success and helping you stay productive.

 Here are some easy ways to help you clear your desk and get organized:

 •    Divide your workspace into zones. Separate your workspace, so you have zones for your daily functions, including a computer area, an active file area and a clear space for working with paper documents. Thinking about your activities can help you lay the foundation for organizing the rest of your space. 

•    Give everything a home. The only things that should be on your desk are items that you use frequently; everything else should have a designated spot out of sight and out of the way to provide a clear space to work.

•    Don’t forget about your desktop. Delete, organize and rearrange the files on your computer so they are in easy-to-find places. Don’t let hundreds of files fill up that “downloads” folder or hang around on your desktop. This advice also applies to emails. Create folders to help you organize email by project or person and delete items you have already addressed.

•    Clear out the junk drawer. We all have that one drawer that we throw anything and everything into: pens, paper clips, candy, snacks, etc. Clean out and organize this space so it can be utilized effectively. Then establish a recurring date to clear out anything that’s not being used. 

•    Disinfect! We come in contact with so many people throughout the day, so eliminating germs where we spend the most time can help us stay out of the doctor's office. Disinfect the items on your desk that you regularly touch, such as your keyboard, mouse, stapler, phone receiver and, of course, your smartphone.

Elizabeth Braun
Parking and Shuttling

Guest Post: Kathy Cavins Tull


By now, you’re beginning to adopt new habits around the change in parking. Some have maybe made a new connection or had the opportunity to talk to a colleague while taking the shuttle. Others have tried out the walk between the parking garage and their workplace. Either way, our new normal is starting to take hold.

Coming into the New Year, I decided that with the change in parking, I had the opportunity to get a few more steps into my day. I have tracked my steps and learned that walking from the parking garage to my office in Sadler Hall was somewhere between .42 and .48 miles depending on my route. It generally takes me about eight minutes to walk that distance in the morning and about 30 seconds less at the end of my work day. I have regularly added a few more steps in my day because I am choosing to stay on or close to campus for lunch and walking there instead of leaving campus by car.

So I began to imagine what an extra 15 minutes of walking a day might look like over time. Here are some things that I found:

  1. A 2014 study at Stanford University found that students who walked just eight minutes could generate 60 percent more uses for an object – a judge of their creativity. (The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognitio, 2014).

  2. People who exercised as little as 15 minutes per day on average lived longer (two-part series on 60 Minutes called “90+”).

  3. Dr. Thomas Frieden, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that walking is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug”, affecting joint issues, cardiovascular issues and even our sweet tooth (5 surprising benefits of walking, Harvard Health Publishing)

When I think about January 2 and the days following, I remember fumbling over shoes – packing work shoes, deciding on the best walking shoes and figuring out how to transport them. Likewise, I have needed to think ahead about either packing a lunch, eating on or close to campus or planning my day to go get my car. At first, this change seemed complicated and a little clunky, but I realized this morning that I have created a new routine. I see different parts of campus, get a little fresh air and walk with others when I can. I feel like there has been some growth for me in this change and the challenges that I experience from time to time are all part of new opportunities.

I can imagine that this is just one change among many that we will experience in the next several months as we prepare to move to our new building. Share your stories and successes, tips for travel and new routines. We’ll post them and see if we can create some interest around ideas that contribute to community, make us more creative and keep us healthy!

It’s a great day to be a Horned Frog!


Elizabeth Braun
Optimizing Ergonomics: Taking Care of Your Body and Your Mind

Sore neck? Stiff back? A headache? If you suffer from any of these conditions after a full workday, your posture may be to blame.

Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them. Ergonomics aims to create safe, comfortable and productive work environments by taking into account an individual’s abilities, and limitations, to improve health and well-being.

Research has shown that lower back pain is one of the world’s most common work-related disabilities. Back pain can be the result of poor posture, but it may also be the side effect of a poorly designed workstation.

Last month the Furniture Transition representatives were given the opportunity to test Herman Miller furniture options being considered for the new Administration Building and provide input about specific needs and preferences. From workstation configurations to telescoping computer screens and sit-to-stand desks to a handful of chair designs, representatives stood, sat, adjusted, opened and tested every furniture option provided.

The sit-to-stand desk made everyone’s wish list and will be a standard workstation feature for the new building. The sit-to-stand desk, which allows you to stand up comfortably while working, affords many health benefits, including:

• Reduced back pain—the Centers for Disease Control found that use of a sit-to-stand desk reduced upper back and neck pain by 54 percent after four weeks

• Reduced risk of weight gain—when compared to an afternoon of sedentary work, an equal amount of standing has been shown to burn more than 170 calories*

• Improved posture and body core strength

• Increased energy, alertness and mood

Other workstation features, such as task lighting and chair designs, are currently being selected by individual departments. Additional amenities, including curved computer monitors and wireless phone options—all designed with the end-user in mind – will be finalized in coming months, and an ergonomics expert will help all employees customize their individual workstations once the new building is constructed and move-in is scheduled.

*HealthLine newsletter, June 2017

Elizabeth Braun
Introducing the Design Concept
Townhall pic 1.jpg

We held Townhall Meetings in October to introduce you to the initial design concept for the new Academic Administration Building as well as discuss where we are in the design process. We opened up conversations about our culture, open plan and alternative worksettings, new technologies, safety and more. The Townhall format gave us the opportunity to hear your questions and concerns. The feedback we received has been critical to our decision-making process moving forward.

Townhall Presentation:

Elizabeth Braun