Local firm Ford, Powell & Carson created the main campus of The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) with a master plan centered on a plaza flanked by seven large buildings and connected by gallerias. They designed it to recall a quaint Italian village.
Those were simpler times.
Today, with nearly 35,000 students, UTSA is the third-largest institution in The University of Texas System and among its state’s top 10 in enrollment. The institution now owns property throughout the city and has five campuses that total about 800 acres.
In 2020, Corrina Green joined as its associate vice president of real estate, construction, and planning to build upon its first campus’s legacy, help create important public-private partnerships, drive economic development and make UTSA a model for excellence in education.
She spoke with American Builders Quarterly in fall 2022 to share the latest on UTSA’s properties and buildings.
Set the stage for me. What made you want to take on your role at UTSA?
President Taylor Eighmy joined UTSA approximately three years before I arrived at the university. Dr. Eighmy set some ambitious goals and started UTSA on an exciting new trajectory—and I wanted to be a part of that.
What were some of his goals that impacted your work?
When I joined the university, we had about 30,000 students. Dr. Eighmy’s ambitious growth strategy for enrollment and expansion into the urban core, coupled with his focus on elevating our athletic programs, has set a pace to improve and expand our built environment. We are dedicated to providing more on-campus student housing to meet our growing student population and support student success.
Additionally, we are partnering with our Roadrunner Athletic Foundation on how we can monetize some of our real estate assets to help fund our athletic master plan implementation, supporting the university’s goal to move into the American Athletic Conference. Notably, we are collaborating with our academic and community partners on how we can create spaces and programs to attract more students and faculty to San Antonio’s downtown core over the next decade.
Tell me about your background and how it fits into this.
I was one of 24 applicants admitted to Drexel University’s 2+4 architecture program, and just 12 of us completed it. I first focused on high-end residential and then started doing master planning and due diligence work, which I loved. I moved to San Antonio, started in design, and got into the development side in the private sector. I was blessed to have a handful of amazing mentors over my career who provided me with invaluable lessons and guidance. I made an effort to learn all that I could from them and this ultimately led to the transition in my career.
Additionally, I am very actively involved in the Urban Land Institute, which has had a huge impact on where I am today. I had the opportunity to be involved with public-private partnerships that support the transformation and development of urban spaces, and I am continuing this with my work at UTSA. Today, I am very active and focused on sustainable development, which can be a catalyst for economic growth.
Urban centers have been struggling. What can your team do to contribute to these important areas?
UTSA has a unique advantage because we can bring opportunities, jobs, talent, and investment to the urban core. We can take the lead because the university is here to serve others. If we find the right private developers, the impact becomes huge because we bring their financial expertise, experience, and funds. Add in our public dollars, experience, and educational components, and the result is something remarkable.
COVID-19 hit right after you started. How did you navigate it?
We had already started spending money on some projects, so we had to find ways to keep people safe without our work grinding to a halt. We did this by forming strong relationships with our design and construction partners on those projects. One of the university’s goals is to see our enrollment reach 45,000 students by 2028. We had the opportunity to acquire property along the San Antonio River and merge academic programs with a well-known art school. We also purchased another 6.5 acres downtown to support additional expansion.
We had to get really strategic, and that drove us to restructure our team. We created UTSA’s Real Estate, Construction and Planning department, which assembled all our project management for major capital and institutional construction oversight, planning and design department, inspections, and real estate under one umbrella to better collaborate and support UTSA’s growth. We’re creating new automated processes, websites, and intake forms to make our team as efficient as possible.
There’s always a lot going on, but what are you most excited about right now?
We’re excited about the completion of San Pedro I, our new downtown San Antonio building for the new School of Data Science and National Security Collaboration Center. This is part of the plan to bolster the area’s development and expand our downtown footprint. Moving forward, we have plans to develop additional space downtown for innovation, entrepreneurship, and careers, building on the programs that UTSA offers in San Pedro I.
Overland Partners is a creative community of problem-solvers delivering comprehensive design services in architecture, master planning and urban design. With a spirit of collaboration that brings our clients’ wisdom to center stage, we integrate technology, art, and craft to create places that care for the Earth and promote human flourishing. We value our partnership with The University of Texas at San Antonio and innovative leaders like Corrina Green, to deliver transformative projects that strengthen learning environments and positively impact San Antonio’s community.