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Campus April 3, 2012 //  by  // 34 Comments

UH: A $638 million construction site

A construction worker works on the site of the newest addition to the Bauer College of Business. The new classroom building is the second one recently built for Bauer, after Cemo Hall.  |  Emily Chambers/The Daily Cougar

A construction worker works on the site of the newest addition to the Bauer College of Business. The new classroom building is the second one recently built for Bauer, after Cemo Hall. | Emily Chambers/The Daily Cougar

Since 2008, the University of Houston has spent $219 million on construction, while another $219 million is being spent on current projects and an additional $200 million is allocated to proposals in the design and financing phase, said UH President Renu Khator in her fall 2011 address.

This has resulted in several construction sites sprawled over campus, closing walkways and obstructing traffic.

“You see it every day when you try to get through campus,” said Director of Facilities Planning Mike Yancey. “We are going to wrap all of those (projects) up as soon as we can.”

All of the construction going on at once has forced students to accommodate to the changes, which include campus sidewalk closures and parking lot closures and reassignments.

“We try to keep the sidewalks open and have good accessibility, but at the same time, we have to do these projects,” Yancey said.

In order to try and limit additional burdens on students, the University has tried to set tighter restrictions on the construction boundaries.

“We limit the contractor’s footprint of the site to where it’s up real close to the building and still allows people to get around,” Yancey said. “The issue is that when you get multiple buildings in the same general location, you get these little narrow slices of traffic.”

Yancey said the University is trying to keep construction at a constant pace to be as non-intrusive as possible.

“I don’t think it’s all at once. It seems that way because we are active right now,” Yancey said.

“What I would like to see is that it continues at an even level so you don’t have big spikes and valleys.”

There are currently three projects in pre-construction — the bidding and procurement phase — they are still being designed and negotiated with contractors.

These projects include a parking garage where Lot 1A is currently located, the University Center transformation project and renovations to the old science building.

“We do some construction-manager-at-risk projects, where you involve the architects and engineers at the same time you involve the general contractor,” Yancey said.

Two residence halls, a dining hall and several academic buildings around campus are considered in the active construction phase, also known as the building phase. These are a mixture of completely new structures as well as renovations and additions to old structures.

“While we are renovating, we are improving,” Yancey said. “The campus is getting better, and I’m really happy with it.”

The financial support for these projects comes from various sources.

“There are a lot of different funding sources, from tuition revenue bonds and HEAF (Higher Education Assistance Fund) to grants and local funds,” Yancey said. “Each project has a different funding source or sources. You can see how the money is combined to do the project.”

Yancey said he does not see a time when construction will not be happening in some form on campus.

“If you look at the life cycle of buildings and the components in a building, in order to maintain and operate it properly, you have to replace certain components in (that) building,” Yancey said.

“As the students and academic people’s needs change, (the University) will necessarily re-purpose the buildings.”

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  • Justin

    While a nuisance to the individual at times, it is a positive for the campus as a whole. Our university is improving in academics, achievement, and national recognition, and so, too, must the face of our university and the physical campus.

  • RedCoog

    Talk about building the pride! Future Coogs are going to have it so good. I really hope they appreciate the massive growth this campus has and is still going through.

    • Amber

      Agreed! Future Cougars are going it have it great! So many great academic programs coming up too. Makes me wish I was born a few years later!

  • raycee

    I just hope that in replacing parking lots with parking garages and such, the prices for these spots won't go up. Things are hard to afford as is and I really hope we won't be paying for this later.

    • Anon

      Oh they will, the spots for the parking garage are going to cost more than the current garage prices, I will bet that even the economy and commuter parking permits will go up this fall, let's pass more projects and get the student who have limited (aka NO) funds to pay for them all!!! Go Googs!

    • quikboy

      Yet another reason why it can be more convenient to live on campus, carpool, or take the METRO. Don't have to deal with that stuff.

      • Anon

        Even if you do live on campus, many people still have a vehicle and therefore will have to pay for the parking passes

  • Russell

    Yoyu have to leave it up to one dummy to come on here and complain, anon! Did you miss the part where The University of Houston was rated as one of the top educations for your buck in the nation. We provide a great education ata reasonable cost and you want to whine and about parking? The campus is more vibrant than I have ever seen it and there are still dramatic improvements to take place ove the next three years. The dining hall, business bldg and optometry bldg will be done this ciming fall, 2013 will open the new Cougar Place and Cougar Village II, and additions to the UC and 2014 will open our brand new football stadium and completion of all renovations and additions to the UC. Somewhere around this time will also be the complete renovations to Hofheinz Pavilion. Keep them coming and give us the inconvenience of a greater campus every year.

    • Anon

      maybe your mommy and daddy pay for everything for you so you won't understand the point of view of a struggling student who does not wish to pay for anything more than an education, and if you actually read the comments, I was not the first person to complain, I was just agreeing with the first post and just plainly stating that the parking prices will most likely go up, as they have every year that I have been to this school. It not as bad as some schools (look at UT Austin) but increasing the prices for gravel lots is ridiculous, especially with all the damage that can happen to your vehicle in those lots. How about you just tone down your "Pride" and think from someone else's point of view for a change, you close minded sheep.

      • Dirk

        Three words for you: UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX

  • quikboy

    The most annoying area is around the Anderson library, power plant, College of Technology, new Bauer building and such make a major walkaround every single time. Plus whoever designed the library could not try to put entrances on other sides of the building? Geez.

    I also hope and wish to see UH actually getting LEED certifications in some of their projects. Many universities have a committment for all new construction to at the least, reach the smallest (Silver) level of certification, and and it's not like UH's projects don't incorporate some or many of those measures. The LEED certifications look good, and it's kind of bad w hen Rice has at least 5 LEED certified ones now.

    • Bauer Alum

      While I agree with your general point regarding LEED certified buildings, comparing UH to Rice is like comparing a Camry to a Ferrari. On a per student basis, Rice has the third largest endowment in the country; below Princeton and Yale but above Harvard and Stanford.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_colleges_and

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1543650245 Michelle Eillen Luster

    Can they make a nicer College of Technology?

  • https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001887596778 Derar Deek

    Funny, they spend so much on technology. Yet we pretty much abandon the college of technology. Colleges of technology, which are making other universities a killing and have more value than an art or journalism degree (which isn't hard to do) in everything and almost everyone. We have pretty poor priories don't we?

    • https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001887596778 Derar Deek

      Construction not technology, sorry

    • Mike

      In time. I’m a proud alum of COT and I agree it does need some attention, but the problem is that the main building is one of the original buildings on campus, so it can’t really be torn down and rebuilt. A 3rd building somewhere close by would be nice, but I’m not really sure where that would go.

      Glad to see the love for COT

    • Bauer Alum

      Many in the academic community view the college of technology as being too vocational [read ITT Tech] to be a part of a tier 1 university. It is essentially viewed as being the watered down, blue collar, pedestrian version of it's engineering or business school counterparts. Examples of this thinking are along this line: In business school, one learns about pricing theory, while in the college of technology, one will learn how to set up a cash register display. In the college of engineering, one will learn how to calculate the amount of force a hurricane will exert on the surface of a building, while the college of tech student will learn how to fasten beams in a building to one another. So, while these stereotypes may not be altogether true, it is this line of thinking that will forever make the college of technology the red-headed stepchild of the business and engineering schools. [and as I recall, this is why the college of technology was spun off the engineering school some years back]

      • https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001887596778 Derar Deek

        Shouldn't matter logically. Technology degrees are making for profits and non profits a killing, and they are demand for tech degrees, more so than most liberal arts majors. Most forms of media and commerce has to do with technology. I would even say that liberal arts have new life breath into it because of digital media, especially with creative writing skills are gaining higher demand because of new media. Investing in the College of Technology will bring more profits into the university, so we could have better buildings than the ones in construction right now.

        • Bauer Alum

          So, let's be the person deciding UH funding with a mandate to improve UH's national academic reputation. Out of the following 4 programs, which one would you underfund? One program teaches students to write the algorithms that make the internet searchable [comp science]; one program teaches students how to construct the microprocessors that make computing possible [elect/computer eng]; one program teaches students to convert infinite data into useful information for the management of a company [management info sys] and; one teaches students how to plug one server into another, defrag my pc, and tell me to restart my pc when it errors out. While it may be unfair, the tech program loses that funding battle by a mile. [Yes, I'll acknowledge that these are gross stereotypes, but they are the stereotypes that academics and the public hold about the college of tech.]

        • DonC

          College of Technology just need a make-over. That if the fool know how.

      • quikboy

        Really? I don't think you know what you're talking about. It doesn't sound like you've even taken classes there. If the building weren't so crusty looking, it probably wouldn't seem that way to you.

        Plus the most popular majors there can get degrees that will land jobs somewhere in the $40K-$85K range. Not what I would consider truly "blue collar".

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1543650245 Michelle Eillen Luster

        The Biomedical Engineering program, from what I've heard from people who were in it at one time, is not even accredited or relevant while the Biotechnology program, which I'm in, is. In Biotechnology I'm learning programming (C++, databasing, etc), scientific research methods (like culturing/transforming bacteria, Bioinformatics research methods, etc), how to do technical writings (like grant proposals, research papers, etc), and regulatory processes (cGMP, QA/QC, etc). I know people in the Supply Chain program in COT who have gotten offers from Halliburton and Schlumberger, which most people in the Supply Chain program in Bauer can't even dream of. I've heard of companies who prefer COT's Supply Chain program to Bauer's because they've had bad experiences with Bauer students.
        I usually don't post my comments online but the fact that our College of Technology is being compared to ITT Tech gets me really heated. People are so ignorant.

        • Bauer Alum

          My point was not to disparage the COT. I apologize if that is how it was interpreted. My point was that there is a perception by many in academia that colleges of technology are not academic pursuits. This is evidenced by the fact that a substantial portion of tier 1 public universities do not have colleges of technology (UT, TAMU, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UVA and U. Michigan are a few examples of tier 1's without COT's). COT's are even rarer amongst the private tier 1 schools. And since UH aspires to be included in that club, it is not likely to invest monies in programs that the members of that club feel is beneath them.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1543650245 Michelle Eillen Luster

            Sorry for my rant, I know that you weren't expressing your opinion but the views of professionals– it's a bit of a sensitive subject to me because I love the COT. :(
            But you're right– most tier 1 universities don't have colleges of technology. I've tried to find other universities with Biotechnology and most don't (for undergrad at least). I just wish that these professionals would take a deeper look at the programs that they are so quick to underestimate.

      • Yoyo

        Even ITT Tech has better bathrooms than the COT. Should I post a picture or two as proof? They go beyond the bounds of decency.

        I challenge you to give me a single example of a worse building, aside from the engineering Y-building.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1543650245 Michelle Eillen Luster

          I agree that the bathrooms (as well as the whole building) are horrible, but that wasn't the point of my post, if you actually read it. Even Lone Star has nicer buildings than the College of Technology. But I'm not talking about the building, I'm talking about the programs. Look above, I even said, "Can they make a nicer College of Technology?"

          • https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001887596778 Derar Deek

            This is my point exactly! College of Technology makes big bucks for other colleges, but not us? We need to invest in them first, and we will profit because of it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.jansen1 Brian Jansen

    i wonder what they will do with all the big empty buildings when the education bubble bursts. we can never have too many homeless shelters i guess.
    look at USF, where Khator came from. her and Carlucci, who also came here, helped finance 9 buildings and now USF is about 500 million in debt and losing good professors because they can't afford them.
    what do you do when you have tons of buildings and can't afford to fill them with professors and students? you can't fire the buildings to save money.
    you can use the space that we already have more wisely though – since many classes are empty – especially on Fridays (the dean of architecture said roughly the same thing last year to the regents.)
    is it any wonder they brought khator and carlucci here to build a bunch of buildings when u look at the developers and other greedy people on the Board of Regents?
    go coogs…

    • RedCoog

      So you don't think it'll pay off to create new buildings to generate more learning space? Generate pride? Draw more talent to the University (students and teachers)?

      There's a demand for housing on campus. New freshman dorms were at full capacity. Increased on campus housing – > more campus involvement -> students with pride -> loyal cougars for life -> alum that donate

      /rant

      • Brian Jansen

        i think the university is a good place to learn – kind of, but really it’s only necessary for students who need expensive lab equipment, etc. as part of their learning. most education here boils down to taking notes/reading books/etc. – stuff you can do at home, and that will be done at home in the future at a much lower cost.
        i think there’s value in having a community of learners and teachers all living nearby – but i don’t think having a non-commuter campus necessarily brings people together.
        i suspect that the way academia is set up turns a lot of professors and students into fairly dumb people. most of the profs i see on talk shows, especially from ivy colleges, seem very dumb – and that’s while sitting next to comedians (who don’t have to deal with all of the confining bureaucracy of academia.)
        so i just wonder what will be done with all of these lecture halls when we realize we don’t need them anymore cuz the internet, or when students can’t afford them anymore. and what will be done with schools in general when OER has a bigger impact?

        look at what MIT is doing right now with it’s certificate program.
        they’re offering a cheap way to get certified through MIT – seems pretty revolutionary.
        but yeah, more buildings and school pride campaigns are cool too. gotta fill them stadiums up and care about football and such.
        go coogs

      • http://www.facebook.com/brian.jansen1 Brian Jansen

        no. i don't believe in that. i think if someone needs to go to a huge school there are plenty to choose from. i think the way tuition and book prices have risen for the past few decades is shameful and i think i see lots of unused space on campus all the time – especially during Friday, Summer, towards the end of the semester when more and more professors are ending their classes early because that's less work for them and the students aren't going to complain because who really likes lectures/school that much?
        most of all i think that education could be nearly free in this day and age. MIT's certificate program is an example of where i think education is going – cheap-free, digital, alternative.
        look at how many big schools are uploading their lectures, curriculum, etc. online for free and all these scholars, intellectuals, philanthropists pushing for open education, open access, open source, etc.
        as for cougar pride – i think that's a marketing scheme, much like 'branding' – creating student identities – which was described in an earlier issue of Transitions (tdc publication.)
        maybe it's true that if we just rant and rave about UH and get all our friends to join and donate all our money to the school, we will benefit…but i can't get over how ugly and fake the whole love UH thing strikes me as being. kind of like how xians seem to mostly believe in heaven because of the pascal mentality.
        it's like some see going here is being a part of a company that you have stock in and so you want it to grow. i look at it as more like a degree factory where some people happen to learn and where many probably get dumber/go crazy/kill themselves. i took a midterm that i didn't study at all for in 20 minutes and got a 97.5 a few days ago. with courses like these for 1000$ no wonder Academically Adrift found no significant increases in critical thinking in college students.
        i also think there are probably conflicts of interest or less than admirable goings on when you consider who is on the Board of Regents, khator/carlucci's spendthrift history, and how much construction is being done.
        /rant

        • Yoyo

          Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter

          • http://www.facebook.com/brian.jansen1 Brian Jansen

            i wish i had the energy to do a newsletter – this school needs some kind of alternative publication that isn't funded by the school.
            and the publication's comment section should let u know when people respond to u automatically instead of having to fill out a form every time…ridiculous. almost like they don't want students having extensive discussions about their stories.

  • http://WhiteLungDisease.com Patrick

    Perhaps a better solution would be to issue hard-hats for all students so they can walk anywhere they want.

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