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Friday, September 29, 2023


Renovations cost UH $349.5 million

The Classroom and Business Building will be completed in spring 2012 and will primarily be used for business classes.  |  Emily Chambers/The Daily Cougar

The Classroom and Business Building will be completed in spring 2012 and will primarily be used for business classes. | Emily Chambers/The Daily Cougar

More than $349.5 million will be used toward the construction and renovation of several academic and student facilities around campus, as well as for some off-campus sites.

One of the more anticipated is the estimated $80 million University Center Transformation project, which includes the UC and the UC Underground renovations along with the construction of two additional attachments on the north and east ends. Student fees will cover 95 percent of the money for this project.

“The result will be the complete transformation of this central facility which offers financial, functional and aesthetic benefits to a Tier-One university’s campus,” said project manager Katherine Miller.

“It will be the focal point for students, faculty, staff and visitors alike, and we aim for it to be the venue of choice on campus for all significant events.”

The east addition will be two stories and expand into parking lot 1E near Melcher Hall. The ground floor will include all food service operations, a bookstore support area and a new 400-seat theater for classes, movies and other events. The second floor will be composed of several meeting spaces, including two large event spaces, Miller said.

Also two stories, the north addition will be constructed over the UC Underground. The first floor will house most of the student organization spaces that currently reside in there. The second floor will include a new Student Government Association Senate chamber and other UC special components.

An elevated walkway will connect the north building to the UC, creating a multi-use plaza in between that will feature seating, a performance stage and a gathering space.

The main UC and UC Underground will be completely reworked to fix the current maintenance and code compliance issues and modernize the outdated mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, Miller said.

The bookstore will be relocated to the east side where the food court currently resides and will also utilize additional basement space. It will not experience any downtime because of construction, Miller said.

The now-open arbor space will be enclosed and transformed into a multi-faceted central space. Several lounge and retail spaces will be added throughout the building, and all current offices and meeting rooms will be updated, Miller said.

The UC Transformation project will be worked on in two phases. The first phase will begin June 2012 and last through December 2013 – it will include the north and east additions as well as some renovations. The second phase will occur from December 2013 to December 2014 and include all the renovations for the existing UC.

Next to this construction is the approximately $41 million Classroom and Business Building. Construction on the first two floors will be complete for the fall 2012 semester, while the upper levels will be finished in spring 2013.

“It’s a multi-use facility. The first two floors will be used for general classroom use for multiple programs,” Miller said.

“Floors three, four and five will be for Bauer College of Business, primarily their executive MBA programs, and some student organizations.”

Near the current Optometry Center, construction is already underway on the approximately $80.5 million Health and Biomedical Building, which will house the College of Optometry, student and faculty research labs and offices for the faculty and graduate students. It will be completed for the fall 2012 semester, said project manager John Posch.

“The facility will serve as the home of an inter-disciplinary research program, which includes BSL-2 level containment area, ambulatory surgical center, specialized research area, seminar spaces and classrooms and vivarium space,” Posch said.

Approximately $38.7 million is being used for additions to the Central Plant, which is located at the center of campus near the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library and provides utility services to much of the campus.

“The expansion will accommodate three new chillers and a new office suite for the plant on the ground floor,” Posch said.

“The project also includes the purchase and installation of three new low NOx high-efficiency boilers, replacement of all four cooling towers and the addition of one new cooling tower.”

Construction on this project will begin pulling back and removing fencing in June 2012, but it will not be entirely complete until fall 2013.

Renovations and expansion to the Blaffer Museum will be finished in summer 2012 and will cost approximately $2 million. These include a new north-facing entrance and several changes to the galleries, Miller said.

“The expansion will be to the north and that will basically provide a more public entrance,” Miller said.

“We’ve moved the stairs to the north side of the expansion and we are renovating all of the gallery space so that it functions better and is basically up to twenty-first century museum standards.”

Construction is also taking place in the Science and Engineering Research Center building, where approximately $13.9 million is being used to insert more lab space on the second and fourth floors. The fourth floor will be completed in summer 2012, and the second floor will be finished in spring 2013.

“When they built it, a lot of it was what we call shell space, which is empty space,” Posch said.

“We’ve done a series of remodels to fit it out with labs over the years. So, we are finishing up the last two sections of it now.”

Also filling in space, an approximately $35.8 million build-out to the fourth floor of the Science Teaching Building will allow for additional research space and will be complete in Jan. 2013.

Several buildings will be undergoing life and safety upgrades, primarily fire alarm and sprinkler updates. These include the Lamar Fleming Jr., Old Science, Science and Research 1 and Science Teaching Lab buildings. The overall cost will be $57.6 million, and the construction will occur at various times through the fall 2013 semester.

Construction is also planned off-campus at the Energy Research Park as well as at other UH System locations, according to Director of Facilities Planning Mike Yancey.

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