St. Stephen’s Episcopal School was founded as a boarding school 70 years ago on 400 acres of former Texas ranch land just west of Austin. Originally established to provide students living in remote rural areas of the state with a quality education, today the school draws primarily from families in and around Austin, combined with boarding students from throughout the state and nation, as well as a strong international constituent. Community living and a fierce attachment to the land remain definitive components of a St. Stephen’s education.
Snaking through the center of the 100-acre campus core, the Campus Greenway project converted ragged roadways and eroded hillsides into a scenic pedestrian corridor. Completed in several phases over twenty years, the greenway links all parts of campus while harnessing the rush of stormwater down the hill, connecting students to their environment and the surrounding Texas Hill Country. Throughout the corridor, a wide limestone walk meanders through native grasses and perennials and mature Live Oak trees offering shady spots for students to study or relax. A “dry creek” made of limestone boulders harvested on site acts as a major drainage channel during rains, eliminating the continual erosion and flooding conditions prior to the project.
Hillsides are terraced with low limestone walls that create more usable outdoor spaces for students and unify newly renovated parts of campus with original campus development. Seamlessly incorporated into the campus environment, green infrastructure elements such as grassy swales, rain gardens, and pervious paving promote rainwater infiltration, groundwater recharge, and cleaner water runoff into St. Stephens Creek and Lake Austin downstream.
The project was funded by the Moody Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation as a model of environmental restoration. See the article “Lead With The Land” from St. Stephen's Spartan magazine for more information about the greenway and the land-focused campus development over the past two decades.
The last photos in the slideshow are “before” and “after” pairs taken in the same general location.