Hurd Welcome Center’s Symbolic Columns Provide Technology-Rich Interactive Baylor Experience
Four columns reflect Baylor’s foundational themes, providing a one-of-a-kind experience and deep connection to the University
WACO, Texas (July 12, 2023) – One of the most striking features of Baylor University’s new Mark & Paula Hurd Welcome Center is the four massive columns that start on the interior floor of Carlton Hall and extend 96 feet high, stretching through the building’s roof and into the sky. The columns are more than a striking architectural feature, though; they represent a deep symbolic connection to Baylor’s history while providing a unique technology-rich and interactive experience for the entire Baylor Family. At night, the columns will stand as illuminated beacons for hundreds of thousands traveling along Interstate 35 and around campus.
The connection of the four columns to the University can be found all around Baylor, such as the four columns of Pat Neff Hall or at various campus entrances. But the origin of the Hurd Welcome Center columns harkens back to the start of the institution, a modern reference to the four remaining stone columns at the original campus in Independence, Texas, where Baylor was founded in 1845.
The columns also tie to four principles that have shaped the University throughout its history and became pillars of Illuminate, Baylor’s strategic plan: Christian Environment, Transformational Education, Research and Scholarship, and Arts and Athletics. Illuminate, launched in 2018, helped transform Baylor into what it is today – an elite Christian Research 1 university that has raised more than $1.3 billion during its Give Light Campaign and established 43 new endowed faculty chairs and professorships – in just five years.
Like many aspects of the Hurd Welcome Center, the columns are customizable to meet the needs of prospective students, game day guests and special events on campus. Each column depicts a theme foundational to Baylor – Reflect, Connect, Aspire and Amplify – and carries the names of Baylor alumni whose gifts helped fund the capital priorities of the Give Light Campaign.
Walking into the Reflect Column demands an immediate “Wow” response. Changing scenes from around campus, such as Armstrong Browning Library and Baylor’s beautiful Live Oak trees, are projected on the ceiling while a 360° mirror delivers a kaleidoscope effect reflecting the beauty of Baylor. The Reflect experience is provided by Roger and Julie Lowe of Lubbock.
The Connect Column is a truly immersive moment, with its video wall highlighting the life of a Baylor Bear. Inside, visitors understand what it means to run the Baylor Line at a Baylor football game, dance in Sing! or study in the library. The Connect experience is provided by Shelley and Jack Harper of Midland.
The Aspire Column offers a particularly personalized experience for prospective students with a state-of-the-art LED video screen that spirals up through the column's interior. The column then transforms on game days to display lyrics to the Baylor Fight Song Old Fight! The Aspire experience is provided by The Ray and Ellen Deaver Family of Waco.
The last column, Amplify, shows how alumni are strengthening Baylor's impact worldwide. A half-globe LED screen – the only one in the world – highlights some of the most successful Baylor graduates sharing their deep appreciation for the education and life preparation they received at Baylor. The Amplify experience is provided by The Bell Family of Dallas.
Once the columns are fully operational, you don’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind opportunity to feel the deep connection to Baylor. The symbolism of four columns standing tall gets even stronger with the new Mark & Paula Hurd Welcome Center.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.