Hines + Buc-ee’s = Aggie excellence

$50 million gift from Buc-ee’s owner Beaver Aplin funding mass-timber campus hub

Hines CEO Laura Hines-Pierce and Founder of Buc-ee’s Arch “Beaver” Aplin III with Texas A&M University
Hines CEO Laura Hines-Pierce and Founder of Buc-ee’s Arch “Beaver” Aplin III with Texas A&M University (Texas A&M, Hines, Twitter/@MaysBusinessSchool)

Iconic Texas brands, assemble! Hines continues its Greater Houston domination as it spearheads the development of Texas A&M University’s mass-timber Aplin Center. 

A $50 million gift from Buc-ee’s owner and Texas A&M alum Arch “Beaver” Aplin III is financing the building. It was one of the university’s largest single-donor donations. 

The College Station campus’ latest hub will be educational and recreational, designed by architectural firms DLR Group and Pickard Chilton. The latter is known for developing two of Houston’s largest corporate projects — the 1.3 million-square-foot Hewlett Packard Enterprise Corporate Campus and ExxonMobil’s 365-acre Spring office complex. 

Landscape architect Design Workshop will transform 8 acres surrounding the building into “an inviting greenspace” at the intersection of Wellborn Road and John Kimbrough Boulevard. 

Specifics like square-footage weren’t detailed, but construction is expected to start in the fall.

“The Aplin Center will be an emerald oasis that preserves the legacy live oak trees and unites the main campus, West Campus and Kyle Field,” said Anthony Markese, a principal at Pickard Chilton. “We envision a warm and beautiful timber building that says, ‘Howdy!’” 

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The development is part of Hines’ sustainable mass-timber construction endeavor, T3. The eco-conscious company has a goal of net-zero operational carbon by 2040.

The Aplin Center will create space for new programs in hospitality, retail studies and food-product development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Mays Business School. It will also feature retail and food-service areas managed by students and faculty. 

Houston currently holds the nation’s largest mass timber academic building, San Jacinto College’s 122,000 square-foot Anderson-Ball Classroom Building, which opened last August and was constructed by Houston-based Tellepsen. 

Aplin, who is also chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, graduated from Texas A&M in 1980 with a degree in construction science two years before he opened the first Buc-ee’s, in Lake Jackson. Buc-ee’s has grown into a one-stop shop for road trippers and a beloved Texas brand, with its beaver icon adorning merch from coffee mugs to bikinis.

Aggieland has been bustling with new construction as College Station comes up as a power player in the Texas Triangle. The Minnesota-based Tailwind Group filed plans in April to bring a student housing complex, Campus Crossing College Station, with construction expected to start this summer. Meanwhile Missouri-based Drury Southwest is building a Drury Hotel, set to be completed next year. 

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