February 19, 2009The University of Houston System Board of Regents recently approved two major construction projects that will play key roles in building a stronger "Cougar Nation."
The regents approved a new undergraduate residence hall and a major renovation to Moody Towers’ dining hall. Both projects soon will break ground and will have long-term impact on the campus community.
"These are significant projects that will contribute greatly to student success" said David Irvin, associate vice president of plant operations. "They also are among the many planned projects that will help the university continue to look and feel like a top-tier institution."
The new co-ed residence hall will be located along Wheeler Avenue between Moody Towers and the Quadrangle. The 284,964-square-foot facility will house 1,085 students and contain tutoring rooms, classrooms, social spaces and a small grocery store. It is budgeted at $50 million and will be paid for through student rental fees.
"This residence hall is designed to help students make connections," Irvin said. "Quality, comfortable campus housing is essential in creating bonds between students and helps them become engaged with campus happenings."
Preparatory work for this project will begin in late April. Construction is scheduled to kick off in July and is expected to be completed in time for the fall 2010 semester.
The renovation for Moody Towers will begin in late April and is scheduled to be complete by Aug. 15. The finished product will be an entirely different kind of eatery, Irvin said.
"People will not recognize this place," he said. "We are completely redoing everything with the idea of providing better service for everyone who dines there. It's a very exciting project."
Food stations will be revamped, allowing students to view their meals as they are prepared. Proposed stations will include a pizza oven, Mongolian grill, bakery, sandwich shop and home-style grill. The dining hall also will offer additional vegetarian and vegan options.
The west entrance leading into the dining hall will be drastically altered. Currently, a steep staircase leads into the facility, but once renovated, a bridge will provide easy access into the hall.
The renovation will cost $10 million. Rent collected from Aramark, the university's food service provider, will fund this project.
The concept behind the revamped dining hall is based on planning efforts by the UH Food Service Advisory Committee, the Division of Student Affairs and the Residence Hall Association. A student survey also provided valuable feedback as to what students want from a campus dining hall.
"Both the new residence hall and new-look dining hall are very dynamic projects," Irvin said. "They will contribute much to the university's landscape in terms of providing more services to the UH community and creating a vibrant campus culture."