Master Plan Update Includes Proposed Classroom Building, Sports & Fitness Center
By Sheryl E. Taylor
The University of Houston System (UHS) Board of Regents convened on Dec. 1 with a full agenda that included an update of the Campus Master Plan for the University of Houston-Downtown.
In the time since the Campus Master Plan was last presented to the Board, UHD purchased a 17-acre parcel of land along the north banks of White Oak Bayou. A portion of this land will provide the site for the new Science and Technology Building, which is expected to be completed by summer 2019. The update to the Board was presented by Patrick Peters, professor and director of the Graduate Design/Build Studio in the Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston.
"These 17 acres are key to creating a new and stronger sense of place for the University along White Oak Bayou, where we can shape a 'north plaza' of public space for the UHD community," said Peters.
UHD's updated Campus Master Plan includes the Science and Technology building, a proposed Sports & Fitness Center that is now in the exploratory stage, as well as a placeholder for an additional classroom building. These three buildings will "coalesce into an urban space for students, faculty and staff," noted Peters. The newly acquired land will also better connect the Daly Street student parking lot to the current campus core at One Main.
As with any plan that seeks to project well out into the future, there are challenges and unknowns, including:
- How to best integrate the newly acquired property with existing holdings so as to develop a cohesive, pedestrian-friendly, model urban campus.
- Whether the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) will go forward with proposed plans to realign I-45 and I-10, which would locate both to the north of the Shea Street Building.
"TXDOT's I-10 relocation serves as a catalyst to further the UHD Master Plan. White Oak Bayou will become the heart of the campus with a beautiful view and improved campus feel," said Board of Regents' Vice Chair Welcome Wilson, Jr. "This is a game changer."
The Board unanimously approved UHD's updated Campus Master Plan.