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November 21, 2006

UHS REGENTS APPROVE
MASTER PLAN, RESIDENCE HALL

 
Faculty and staff review the model of UH’s campus master plan, which includes student housing, classrooms, a sculpture garden and amphitheater.
Photo by Thomas Shea
 

This summer, the University of Houston unveiled its vision for a campus master plan, complete with new student housing, a sculpture garden, amphitheater, expanded classroom buildings and revamped facilities among other amenities.

The UH System Board of Regents recently voted to adopt this long-range framework strategy and put the university’s bold, new vision into focus. The board also approved the construction of this plan’s first major project, a $99 million, 547,000-square foot residence hall for graduate and professional students.

More than a simple dormitory, this facility will combine retail outlets, lecture halls, recreation facilities and stylish loft apartments.

“This facility will be the university’s first campus housing designed exclusively for graduate and professional students, which is appropriate since UH’s enrollment has the highest proportion of graduate students of any university in the state,” said Elwyn Lee, vice president for student affairs.

The hall will be located next to the C.T. Bauer College of Business on its north side and will house more than 700 loft apartments, 10,000 square feet of ground-level retail space and a 400- to 450-seat lecture hall.

“A facility like this creates an environment that lifts the attitude and morale of the university,” said Leroy Hermes, UHS Board of Regents chairman. “What we’re trying to build is tradition. By having a facility that encourages people to remain close to the university, then we’ve achieved that goal.”

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in August 2007 and to be completed in 2009. The architectural firm assigned to this project is John Kirksey Associates Inc., and construction would be handled by Pepper/Lawson Construction, the company that built UH’s Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. Kirksey and Pepper/Lawson previously have collaborated on residence halls at Houston Baptist University and the University of St. Thomas.

Funding for this facility will come from different sources, said David Irvin, associate vice president for facilities and plant operations. The building’s housing and retail areas will be funded by rental fees. The Division of Academic Affairs is identifying funds to finance the lecture hall.

“We have a long list of retail vendors who want to lease space in this building,” Irvin said. “As soon as we said we were building it, potential renters have come out of the woodwork.”

Irvin added that the first-floor retail area would be similar to that of the new Welcome Center with an outdoor patio facing Calhoun Road.

Here are the proposed rates for leasing loft apartments:

Efficiency (300 square feet) - $650
1 bedroom/1 bath (500 square feet) - $790
2 bedrooms/1 bath (650 square feet) - $1,300

Although this is the initial construction project associated with the campus master plan, other phases began last summer through landscaping projects and the installation of new campus lighting fixtures.

The campus master plan will span approximately 20 years and allows the university to increase the square footage of campus buildings to 15 million from 8 million and increase overall enrollment to 45,000 from 35,000. It also bolsters the student residential on-campus population from 12 percent to 25 percent. Other enhancements include increasing parking spaces and closing Cullen Boulevard to auto traffic.
Cooper, Robertson and Partners is the architecture and urban design firm that developed this plan, which divides the campus into four districts: arts, professional, stadium and undergraduate.

“It’s exciting to be at UH as we embrace such a visionary roadmap to our future,” Irvin said. “This framework plan builds on the best of our campus today and sets us up to become the premier metropolitan institution of tomorrow.”

To view a PowerPoint presentation and a video detailing the UH master plan, visit http://www.advancement.uh.edu/masterplan/.

Mike Emery
memery@central.uh.edu