OSU Welcome Plaza

OSU Welcome Plaza

The OSU Welcome Plaza just won the 2020 ASLA Central States design award.

Oklahoma State University hired Alaback Design to transform the once non-descript, ¼ acre lawn that was under-utilized but in a very prominent location near the Student Union and OSU Alumni Center.  This area was considered the front door to the University, but the first impression was uninviting and unimpressive.  With the completion of the Welcome Plaza, this space has been transformed into an awe-inspiring plaza that features art and native plantings.  This space has quickly become a signature garden within the campus. The Welcome Plaza now provides an iconic space to greet prospective and current students, alumni, and campus employees.

The Welcome Plaza is a vibrant, artistic expression of OSU’s Campus Landscape Master Plan, which seeks to increase the quality and quantity of green spaces across the OSU campus.  Native plantings were utilized, which provide sustainability benefits and help to reinforce the University’s mission.  The new landscape includes over 70 species of plants that are native to the region, and there is a color and texture for every season and sun / shade setting.  The native plant varieties not only support the natural character of the design but also provide beneficial pollinator plants within an urban setting.  Signage throughout the garden allows for QR code apps to identify plant names, providing a useful teaching tool for university horticulture and botany classes.

The Welcome Plaza has been highly successful as a place that conveys excitement and the strong family bond that exists at Oklahoma State University.   Art has been integrated throughout the plaza’s design to convey OSU’s culture. Upon arrival to the plaza, visitors are greeted with a dramatic brick walkway and an arbor with large columns that highlight the University’s cowboy family values.  Two bronze horse sculptures powerfully symbolize the on-going “student to alumni” transformation with the OSU family.  Another section of the garden displays a bronze saddle sculpture and ranch-rail fence, and a nearby water feature offers soothing sounds to enjoy while sitting in the shade.


Location: Stillwater, OK

Client: Oklahoma State University