HoustonPBS UH Moment: Building Innovation through the Materials Research Collaborative

The building blocks of contemporary architecture can be found at the University of Houston’s Materials Research Collaborative (MRC), located on the first floor of the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture.

“It provides a whole lot of hands on experience for students who are looking for materials for their projects,” said UH architecture student Brad Hirdes. “It’s a place where they touch the materials, look at the materials; and there is an online database that allows us to be able to research further.”

MRC is a partnership between UH and the global consulting firm Material ConneXion. It brings contemporary building blocks and innovative, sustainable materials and processes to regional architects, designers and students.

Architecture student Lauren Roberts says the Materials Library allows students to help take their project ideas from abstract to tangible. 

“As a student, we have to realize projects in our head,” said Roberts. “It’s hard when we can’t hold something in our hands and visualize that material or how the building is going to look.”

Donna Kacmar is director of the UH Material Research Collaborative and a professor at Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture.

“I think what it’s doing is increasing the material literacy of our students,” said Kacmar. “Students can touch and feel these materials, they can ask questions about where this material comes from, where it comes out of the ground, where the raw materials are coming from and understand some of the implications of the choices we’re making for the built environment.”

The MRC opened at the University of Houston in September 2011. UH architecture students can utilize the MRC at no cost and professional architects and designers can purchase annual memberships.

For details on membership opportunities or how an organization can become involved with the MRC, contact Alaina Schuster at adschuster2@uh.edu. To learn more about Material ConneXion, visithttp://www.materialconnexion.com/