UH TO DEVELOP ‘MASTER’ UNIVERSITY
The University of Houston is building a new vision for the
campus — one that includes creating a city within a city
complete with an amphitheatre, high-ceiling lofts and cutting-edge
“We’re excited about the new campus master plan,
which focuses on open space, landscaping, transportation and
circulation, and provides us with a map to developing a first-class,
21st-century university,” said Dave Irvin, associate vice
president for facilities and plant operations.
The proposed master plan allows administrators to double the
square footage of buildings to 15 million from the current 8
million and increase overall enrollment to 45,000 from 35,000.
The plan also doubles the percentage of students living on campus
from 12 percent to 25 percent, increases parking spaces, and
closes Cullen Boulevard and the center of campus to auto traffic.
Cooper, Robertson and Partners, an architecture and urban design
firm, and the university created the proposed master plan, which
divides the campus into four districts. The Arts District, on
the north side, will offer amenities such as an amphitheatre,
sculpture garden and high-ceiling lofts. The Professional District
will be located along Calhoun Road and will cater to graduate
and married students. The Stadium District will mix academic
and retail space with access to rail and bus lines. The plan
also proposes creating apartment-style housing for students
living in the Undergraduate District along Wheeler Avenue. Over
the next five years, the university will spend $292 million
implementing parts of the plan.
The proposed master plan would span 20 years, but Cougars won’t
have to wait that long to see progress or to catch a glimpse
of the new envisioned campus.
Plant Operations launched the first phase of the plan this
summer with various landscaping
projects. Now, the department has completed the designs
for several major projects, including a 1,000-bed housing complex
on Calhoun Road, to be located north of Melcher Hall, a 50,000-square
foot addition to the College of Optometry and an expansion of
Melcher Hall. Designs for three buildings for engineering student
services, industrial engineering and energy engineering are
under way, according to Irvin.
Irvin expects to present the proposed plan and the proposal
for the housing project to the UH System Board of Regents at
its November meeting. If approved, new construction may start
as early as May 2007.
Before ground breaking begins, faculty, staff and students
can get a bird’s eye view of the campus master plan due,
in part, to the efforts of four architecture students who spent
their summer toiling on a large-scale model.
Under the supervision of Joe Meppelink, lecturer in the Gerald
D. Hines College of Architecture, Jill Nguyen, Lee Kelly, Armando
Arteaga and Brey Tucker are building a high-grain plywood model
that measures 13 feet east and west and 18 feet north by south.
The model depicts the new campus, including trees, roads and
new and existing buildings such as Robertson Stadium and the
E. Cullen Building.
Assembling the model has been a unique experience for Meppelink,
who said, “I’ve built small-scale models but nothing
this large.” For the students, the project offers a rare
opportunity, which Nguyen said gives her “a taste of professional
The model was the brainchild of Joe Mashburn, dean of the architecture
college, who thought it would illustrate the university’s
vision more effectively than the renderings created by Cooper,
Robertson and Partners.
“It was a great idea,” Irvin said. “Things
can come to life in a model in a way that a two-dimensional
object can’t. In this model, the details that the students
have included and how it communicates what our campus can be
is mind blowing.”
Initially, Irvin and Mashburn pledged funds to support the
project. Later, Mashburn persuaded several other deans to provide
monies to develop the model, which administrators may present
at venues such as alumni functions, special events and the Welcome
Center’s lobby. The project is scheduled to be completed
“The college is proud to be involved in the project and
proud of our students,” Mashburn said.
“We’re glad to contribute to what the university
wants to become.”