Campus Life

Development Manager, Architects Selected For Design Of Texas A&M Aplin Center

Set to break ground on innovative facility this fall.
Texas A&M University Division of Marketing and Communications June 12, 2023

Beaver Aplin seated on a stage wearing a cowboy hat. A banner in the background reads "McLane Leadership in Business Award"
Arch “Beaver” Aplin III, founder of Buc-ee’s, donated $50 million for the construction of a unique new learning facility on the Texas A&M campus. Pictured: Aplin visits campus to accept the McLane Leadership in Business Award on Oct. 26, 2022, at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center.

Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications


Texas A&M has selected key partners to advance toward a fall groundbreaking for the Aplin Center. Supported by a $50 million gift from former student Arch “Beaver” Aplin III, owner of Buc-ee’s, the academic center will serve as an immersive learning laboratory for students.

Houston-based Hines has been selected as the development manager to facilitate the T3 project. T3 is Hines’ new generation of heavy timber buildings focused on innovation, wellness and sustainability. Pickard Chilton and DLR Group, two premier architectural design firms known for their innovative ideas, will lead the design of the state-of-the-art facility. Design Workshop, a landscape architecture firm, will transform the surrounding eight acres at the corner of Wellborn Road and John Kimbrough Boulevard into an inviting green space. The university will break ground in the fall.

“The team we’ve assembled is creating a facility unlike anything else in the country,” Texas A&M University President M. Katherine Banks said. “From the innovative building design to the function of the Aplin Center, students from many disciplines will have an unprecedented opportunity to bring their studies to life in a hands-on environment.”

The Aplin Center will offer a transformational student experience through new university programs in hospitality, retail studies and food product development involving innovative degree programs including viticulture, fermentation processes, coffee and food science. Product development laboratories and food tasting areas will offer collaboration with industry and experiential learning opportunities for students.

“From our first meeting with Beaver and the A&M leadership team, it was clear that their vision of a living laboratory was a strong gesture pointing toward innovation design excellence,” said John Mooz, senior managing director at Hines. “This seemed to fit well with a T3 building endeavor. The inherent benefits and sustainable properties accelerate a dynamic learning environment that supports students in their academic endeavors today and provides for a long-standing commitment to the built environment for decades.”

“We are honored to be collaborating with Beaver Aplin, Texas A&M, and Hines to design a building that will transform an important place within the campus” said Anthony Markese, principal at Pickard Chilton Architects. “The Aplin Center will be an emerald oasis that preserves the legacy live oak trees and unites main campus, West Campus and Kyle Field. We envision a warm and beautiful timber building that says, “Howdy!” by embodying Aggie culture and traditions throughout and embraces A&M’s future by creating a fun, interactive and engaging place where Aggies will want to be.”

The Aplin Center will include outdoor and indoor student recreational space, as well as retail and food service areas managed by students and faculty through the educational programs.

The project will host corporate training and recruiting programs, along with professional development opportunities. Workforce training based on industry needs will be a key component of the center. Texas A&M is already exploring potential collaboration with industry for internship opportunities as students advance through the programs offered at the Aplin Center.

Primary academic partners will be the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Mays Business School, although other academic units will be involved in specialty projects.

“The team has been given a clean sheet of paper to design an incredible facility on an amazing piece of property that will serve not only the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences but also the Mays Business School and the entire Aggieland community. This project is as good as it gets,” said Beaver Aplin, founder and CEO of Buc-ee’s.

Aplin graduated from Texas A&M in 1980 with a construction science degree and opened his first Buc-ee’s in Lake Jackson, Texas, in 1982.

Media contact: Megan Lacy, 

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