By Destinie Holiday
The University of Houston announced the much anticipated opening of the Faculty Cafe earlier this year with the progressive efforts of UH Facilities.
The Faculty Cafe is far from an ordinary break room. With a clean, sleek, modern design, it offers a comfortable environment with bar style seating options and vast assortments of coffee.
According to Provost Paula Myrick Short, it was important to have a space for faculty to “collaborate and innovate.”
The idea for a faculty cafe originated with Provost Short through a retreat she attended with members of the Faculty Senate and the Center for ADVANCING UH Faculty Success approximately two years ago. The idea to develop a shared faculty space was part of the grant submitted by the center to the National Science Foundation.
The cafe was designed as a “collision space,” a place where faculty members could interact in an informal setting for both professional and personal interaction and encourage a sense of “esprit de corps.”
Also, the space was intentionally designed to provide a working environment for emeriti faculty on campus. The goal was to keep emeriti faculty engaged with both current faculty and the University, and offer current faculty the opportunity to utilize the emeriti faculty as a unique resource.
The basement was originally set up to operate as an office with cubicle spaces but construction really started to take shape after the walls were removed. Once the space opened up, there was a sense of what it would actually look like. The addition of the red-and-white striped wall was a finalizing touch that really made the vision come to life.
The current feedback on the cafe space has been positive with descriptive words including “beautiful,” “calming” and “perfect.” While sign-in is not required, it is encouraged.
Organic faculty groups such as writing-based groups, reading groups, and diversity-based groups have utilized the space.
Senior Project Manager Kimberly Burks played a key role in keeping this project moving along. Burks said the project team was able to overcome several hurdles that often occur during renovations inside occupied buildings. Despite these hurdles, the project conveyed the vision the Office of the Provost desired for faculty to collaborate and foster relationships.
“One of my favorite finishes in the space is the Hufcor Glass Wall. The five-panel glass wall system has added an element of unique room separation, while maintaining an openness,” Burks said.