UH Architects, Artists Creating Mini-Pavilion From Reused Cubicles

Structure to be Installed at Hermann Park in Aug. as Part of Upcoming Centennial Celebration

UH student architects and artists are collaborating on "ReFRAME x FRAME," a mini-pavilion constructed from recycled office cubes.

Houston’s historic Hermann Park is about to turn 100. To help celebrate its centennial in 2014, creative minds from the University of Houston are delivering an early present.

“ReFRAME x FRAME” is part arts pavilion and part transitional housing that can be used following natural disasters or other crises.

The solar-powered structure is the first of its kind. Constructed from reused office cubicle materials with additional steel components,  “ReFRAME x FRAME” illustrates new functional uses for discarded office furniture.  Its roof is equipped with solar panels to power its lighting and multimedia artwork, as well as a rain catcher to harvest water for non-potable use. Installation at Hermann Park (along the northwest corner of McGovern Lake) is scheduled for mid-August.

“ReFRAME x FRAME” is this year’s annual Graduate Design/Build Studio (UHGDBS) project. Led by professor Patrick Peters, graduate architecture students from UH’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture are designing and constructing the structure. UH graphic communication students (guided by professor Cheryl Beckett) are contributing infographics communicating the project’s details, and UH assistant professor of art Abinadi Meza is creating an audio installation that will play sounds derived from the environment.

 “Many times, workplaces outgrow or replace their cubicles. Once replaced, the old units are discarded or placed in storage,” Peters said. “This project not only helps celebrate the anniversary of this important park, but it’s an opportunity to showcase new ways of putting old cube components to work.”

In designing and constructing this groundbreaking structure, Peters and his students have been quite busy in UH’s Burdette Keeland Jr. Design Exploration Center. From galvanizing steel to welding and woodwork, each student walks away from the course with new skills. They also benefit from knowing that their handiwork will contribute to the lush landscapes of Hermann Park.

“We’re learning everything,” said Dijana Handanovic, a first year graduate architecture student. “Students are used to putting ideas on a computer or paper. This is the real world. We’re learning about materials and putting them together. It’s an unbelievable experience.”

Once Handanovic and her classmates erect “ReFRAME x FRAME” at Hermann Park, Meza’s audio installation will be activated to attract park-goers. Sounds will be derived from elements of the environment. They will be recorded by Meza and UH art students using small sensors that measure temperature, moisture and wind. These measurements and calculations will be transformed into actual sound using customized software created by Meza. Measurements will be taken in the Hermann Park and surrounding neighborhoods. His participation in this project is made possible by UH’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.

“The audio component is responding to the environment and making different aspects of it hearable,” Meza said. “A motion sensor will trigger the audio when people enter it, and text will explain what they’re hearing.”

 “ReFRAME x FRAME” is an early contribution to Art in the Park, a collection of temporary installations to be placed around Hermann Park in celebration of its centennial year in 2014.

In addition to the hard work of UH faculty and students, the project is supported by Allsteel, the Hermann Park Conservancy, Morris Architects, Madison Charitable Foundation, Pioneer Contract Services, The Weingarten Art Group, UH’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, Contract Resource Group, Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, United Galvanizing Inc., British Petroleum’s Fabric of America Fund, Pointsmith, UH’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the IAMAW Union Membership, Lodge 12, Sun-Stop LLC, Reynolds Advanced Materials, and Tolunay-Wong Engineers, Inc.

GDBS is part of UH’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture. Past community projects include a solar shade tree for McReynolds Middle School and an amphitheater classroom for the T.H. Rogers School. To learn more about GDBS, visit http://www.uh.edu/gdbs/.

The UH School of Art's graphic communications program prepares student designers through an intensive curriculum focused on graphic design methodology, research and theory. It offers both Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees. For more information, visit the program’s website.  

The Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture offers bachelors and master’s degrees in a variety of disciplines including architecture, space architecture, interior architecture and industrial design. Faculty members include esteemed professionals in the architectural community, as well as award-winning academic veterans. Facilities include studio spaces, the new Materials Research Collaborative, computer labs and the Burdette Keeland Jr. Design Exploration Center. To learn more about the college, visit http://www.arch.uh.edu/.