Opinion Web Exclusive

Buildings of UH: Agnes Arnold Hall

AA Hall-Jimmy Moreland2

Jimmy Moreland | The Daily Cougar

On occasion, if one wanders around the Einstein Brother’s Bagels area during the wee morning hours — think 6 a.m. — they might hear the eerily faint sound of music playing. Indistinguishable unless the student is brave enough to investigate, this music can seem to like the soundtrack to a bad horror film.

While the possibility of the music being the siren song of an axe murderer attempting to lure in victims is still viable, it is allegedly the music played by the custodians who maintain Agnes Arnold Hall. Aside from the symphony of scary sounds, Agnes Arnold Hall’s history is made of great Cougars.

According to a June 26, 1969 UH Acta Diurna notice, this six-story building was completed in 1967 by Kenneth Bentsen Associates. Interestingly enough, all of the designers in Kenneth Bentsen Associates were graduates of the College of Architecture at the University, including Kenneth Bentsen himself. Although Agnes Arnold Hall may not garner a second glance from a passing student nowadays, this building compiled of a sunken underground courtyard, 32 classrooms, two lecture halls and 184 office spaces once received a national award for excellence in design from the U.S. Office of Education.

In addition, when Agnes Arnold Hall first arrived, it had the additional amenities: escalators. However, due to needed replacement of the defunct escalators, they were eventually removed and replaced with stairs, according to Daily Cougar Archives.

However, when Agnes Arnold Hall first graced the campus with its presence, it was merely known as the Liberal Arts Classroom Building. It wasn’t until 1969, with the passing of Agnes Cullen Arnold, that the Liberal Arts Classroom Building earned the honor of a new name.

Agnes Arnold Cullen was the daughter of Hugh Roy Cullen, a great benefactor and friend to the University, in case that wasn’t obvious from the Roy G. Cullen Building and the infamous Cullen Boulevard. With her passing at the age of 60, Agnes Cullen had a number of accomplishments under her philanthropic belt. She had been a member of the UH Board of Regents from 1950-1960, a trustee of the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, an honorary board member of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, supporter of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and a trustee of the Cullen Foundation.

AA Hall-Jimmy Moreland4

Jimmy Moreland | The Daily Cougar

Following her death, President Philip G. Hoffman said that he felt it was appropriate that the University “memorialize this great lady in this manner.” Thus, as a dedication to Agnes Arnold Cullen, the Liberal Arts Classroom Building became Agnes Arnold Hall.

Now, if one were to take entrance 14 from Cullen Boulevard, Agnes Arnold Hall can be seen bravely standing against wind, rain and promotional posters to offer students an array of liberal arts classes. Students can be seen perching on the outdoor benches preparing for an exam or anxiously waiting for the Campus Loop or Outer Loop shuttles to shorten the distance to their cars or better get around campus.

A glance at this building would be worth a seat on the benches nearby — it stands as a monument to the things the University’s graduates and supporters can create and contribute together.

Opinion Editor Kelly Schafler is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected].


  • A history professor once said that it was the building most likely to have people jumping off the top, given the conditions in the offices at the top 🙂

  • One thing that wasn’t mentioned: part of why it won a design award was because of the open-air hallways. Simply opening up one wall of the building for the hallway areas dramatically cut down on cooling costs for the building.

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