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Referring to his campus plan for the University of St. Thomas, the architect Philip Johnson said: "The master plan turns back to a more formal and more connected building, based somewhat on the model of Jefferson's University of Virginia, in order to give the campus a sense of community and cohesion." Johnson's master plan drew on Jefferson's Academical Village, which also featured buildings arranged along a central mall-like lawn. The modernist, rectilinear architecture shows echoes of Mies van der Rohe's buildings for the Illinois Institute of Technology, begun in Chicago in 1942. The Johnson design of the University of St. Thomas campus raised the architectural profile of the entire city of Houston, putting it on the map of international modernism.
The current condition of the Academic Mall is very good. The University recently completed phase one of structural repairs to the arcade and will complete phase two during the summer of 2004, to be followed by painting the entire arcade. The University remains very committed to protecting the Mall and associated buildings.