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Office of External Communications

Houston, TX 77204-5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

August 30, 2004

Contact: Eric Gerber
713.743.8189 (office)

Onetime Marching Band Practice Site to Become Keeland Design Exploration Center

HOUSTON, Aug. 30, 2004 – An ugly duckling on the University of Houston campus is about to blossom into a stylish, environmentally sensitive swan.

The Band Annex building, a hulking, unused edifice likely destined for the wrecking ball, is instead being transformed into an innovative new workshop space for the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture. Called the Burdette Keeland Jr. Design Exploration Center, this substantially refurbished facility will become not only one of the most visually striking buildings on campus, but also the first structure that qualifies for coveted LEED certification. (That is, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the national standard for high performance and sustainable construction from the Green Building Council.)

Keeland, for whom the building is named, was a professor of architecture at UH who joined the faculty in 1954. Known for his irreverent spirit, dedication to teaching and commitment to Houston, Keeland served on the City Planning Commission for nearly 30 years. He was instrumental in bringing world-renowned architect Philip Johnson to design the UH College of Architecture building (completed in 1986).

A “roof raising” ceremony for this unique project is scheduled Sept. 9.

“Having this new building will significantly extend our ability to contribute to the UH mission, especially in the area of community service,” said Joseph Mashburn, dean of the college. “The generous donations and foresight of our supporters will allow us to take Burdette's legacy into the future. With this facility we are fulfilling our vision of this college as the design center for Houston and beyond.”

More than half a century ago, the galvanized metal building was constructed as a vocational facility where returning World War II veterans could be taught auto mechanics. After that, it served as a print shop. In more recent times, the venerable (if more than a tad tarnished) structure has echoed with the sounds of pounding drums and blaring brass as the school’s marching band practiced routines inside the cavernous edifice. That vast interior – nearly 10,000 square feet of floor space and a soaring, hangar-like ceiling – will be little changed in its transformation to the Design Exploration Center, a utilitarian place where students and faculty will roll up their sleeves and do hands-on work with tools, materials and models. However, the exterior will change considerably as spacious banks of new windows are added, a distinctive slanted green roof is installed and sleek external cladding is applied.

Obviously, such an impressive facility does not come cheap, but in this particular case, it comes with some surprising economy.

If the school were faced with constructing a completely new structure to house the Design Exploration Center, it’s estimated the total cost would be four to five times as much. Supported in part with a $200,000 gift from Harvey Houck, a close friend of Keeland’s, the reconstruction project will also rely on donated labor and materials from individuals and companies in Houston’s design and construction community.
(For a list of contributors to date, please see http://www.arch.uh.edu/keelandcenter/donorlist.html).

The Design Exploration Center will house three separate units: the Design-Build Studio, the Environmental Simulation and Modeling Lab and the Architectural and Industrial Prototyping Center.

The Design-Build Studio has been a basic part of the architecture college’s curriculum, offering graduate students the opportunity to team up on public construction projects, including a number of environmentally sensitive classrooms for the Houston Independent School District. (See http://www.arch.uh.edu/port/dBuild.html). The program will move from its current cramped quarters in the architecture building into a much roomier venue in the new Keeland center.

Likewise, the Environmental Simulation and Modeling Lab will be able to significantly expand its current
efforts studying the impact that such factors as air flow, sun and noise have on buildings and materials.

The Architectural and Industrial Prototyping Center will focus on the college’s new Industrial Design program as well as assist students currently working in the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture
(See http://www.sicsa.uh.edu/) who are envisioning and exploring structures humans may use in extreme environments.

When the project opens in January, the Design Exploration Center will be a high-minded tribute to architectural resurrection and a great place for students to get their hands dirty.

For more information about the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, visit the site http://www.arch.uh.edu/home/index.html.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

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