By Richard Zagrzecki
As the University of Houston inches closer to turning 100 in a little over a decade, the wheels are in motion to ensure the campus continues to mature in a positive way.
The framework of that success is laid out in Phase 1 of the 2015-2020 master plan that takes into account various long-term goals that all share one major vision: student success.
The master plan’s stated purpose is to provide a living guide to the integration of short- and long-term planning efforts toward the physical enhancement of the University.
“We are literally laying the groundwork for the year 2027, which is not too far over the horizon, but is such an important benchmark for the life of our institution that we are planning now for that long-term target,” said Patrick Peters, a professor in the College of Architecture.
The College of Architecture’s in-house design studio designLAB was responsible for collecting the near-term physical aspirations of the University’s colleges, departments and programs to develop Phase 1 of the master plan efforts. The master plan work will be updated annually so that this document remains reflective of the current needs of the University and its programs. Phase 1 of the well-thought-out plan addresses a host of needs ranging from parking to residential housing to infrastructure projects.
“The planning process allows us to weave into the future the values that we embrace from our past, while responding to the complexities and necessary growth and maturation of the University,” said College of Architecture Dean Patricia Oliver.
Because of its outstanding academic and research program, the University of Houston has become a destination campus for students from the United States and worldwide. A stated goal of the master plan is to make the University’s environs a destination campus in its own right, with signature pedestrian corridors linking housing, classrooms, research assets and student life amenities. It also aims to construct outdoor gathering spaces between research clusters and academic units to further collaborative engagement.
To reach these goals, several strategies have been identified, including linking academic growth models to space use documentation, analysis and management. Integrating capital building projects with defined outdoor gathering spaces and connecting maintenance projects with physical enhancement opportunities are two other listed strategies.
“In order to ensure our campus reaches its potential and matures and evolves, we have to be mindful of the planning that is needed to accomplish those goals,” said Emily Messa, associate vice chancellor/associate vice president for Administration. “By taking a strategic approach, we can witness the goals become a reality.”