You may already have noticed a change or two about the UH campus this semester. With many ongoing construction projects nearing completion, the campus is a sight to see. As these changes continue to flood in, alumni and recent graduates might not even recognize some areas of UH they were once familiar with.
“All the projects are precious, and each one adds value to our campus in its own way,” said President and Chancellor Renu Khator.
The first things one will probably notice are the bright new signs lining Cullen Blvd. A section of campus has been divided into the Arts District as the Alley Theatre is welcomed to UH, taking up its year-long residency for its upcoming 2014-2015 season while the downtown theater building undergoes renovation.
According to a news release from the University, a total of 41 new signs have been placed as the nearly two year-long collaborative project between designLAB and Minor Design comes to fruition. As one explores this side of campus, one will notice the consistent color scheme of teal that signals UH’s Arts District. As the scope of the University’s signage undergoes this transformation, UH will be divided into different districts to help students and visitors navigate their way around campus.
“The new signage not only improves the aesthetics, but it will also provide more accurate and complete content,” said Patrick Peters, professor at the College of Architecture who played a leading role in the project.
UH will be divided into eight different districts as shown by the campus map below: arts (teal), athletics (red), professional (blue), biomedical residential (magenta), central core (yellow), Cullen north (tan) and the ERP (green). Soon, the Athletics District signage will be up, signaling the district in UH’s signature red. To comply with the city of Houston’s requirements, street addresses have also been added to the top portion of the signs.
Speaking of Cullen, one will definitely notice the significantly less bumpy ride as they cruise across Cullen in its repaved and renovated glory. After nearly two years, the city of Houston finally agreed to take the project under its belt and repair the road students have been griping about.
“Cullen Boulevard renovation has been possible because of the city of Houston, but also to the relentless campaign launched by our students and staff in convincing the city officials this was necessary,” Khator said.
Additionally, Cullen will now accommodate game days at TDECU Stadium.
“Cullen, between Holman and Cougar Place, (will) be closed off on game days so students can enjoy tailgating and the new UH football experience,” said Student Body President Charles Haston.
Alley Theatre and The Grove
Taking a trek through the Arts District will lead one straight to The Grove, a renovated green space between the Schools of Art, Theatre, Moores School of Music and the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication.
With a cleaner pavement and newly designed walkway, visitors and onlookers get a clearer view of Wortham Theatre across the parking lot. The landscape upgrade includes better lighting, better defined routes to the theater and an increase in gathering space.
“The Grove and other renovations to the Arts District are the result of our partnership with the Alley. All of these improvements add to the quality of campus life, but their true impact will come as our students get even more engaged and succeed in even greater numbers,” Khator said.
“Thanks to everyone’s support, we now can boast of having one of the most beautiful urban campuses in America,” Khator said. “Our stadium is a reality, thanks to our students. It is said that ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Yes, they — students and alumni alike — are coming to the campus feeling prouder and redder than ever.”
“The new stadium is my favorite new addition to the UH campus. It gives us a new venue to potentially hold some of the biggest concerts in the country,” Haston said.
Haston said the new stadium provides opportunities to host a bigger, better Frontier Fiesta and take it to the next level. One of Student Government Association’s initiatives involves athletics and the TDECU Stadium.
Moreover, Haston also said he wants “Cage Rage” to be a tradition that would be carried out during the football season. Cage Rage will be a giant pep rally to ramp up students’ excitement about UH football and raise school spirit. Expect a field goal contest Wednesday night — first student to kick a field goal from the 40-yard line wins $1,000.
Thursday’s Glow Party & Laser Show opens at Lynn Eusan Park, where Coca-Cola has donated free drinks and pizza will be provided for students. Aramark is set to sell beer and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the night. Shiner Bock and Bud Light will be sold for $5.
“We hope (Cage Rage) is noisy, energetic and powerful,” Haston said.
It’s an exciting year for tailgating with a DJ set to perform on Friday along with plenty of entertainment options, according to SGA’s stadium opening events proposal. The SGA Athletics Committee put together a program for stadium opening events throughout the first week of school, kicking off the first game, UTSA vs. UH.
Which new campus landscape addition are you most excited for?
- TDECU Stadium (57%, 174 Votes)
- Cullen Boulevard in all its renovated glory (23%, 70 Votes)
- The Grove (green area near the schools of Music, Fine Arts, and Communication) (13%, 39 Votes)
- The Alley Theatre during its guest residency at the Wortham Theatre (7%, 21 Votes)
Total Voters: 303
As far as what to expect in the near future, there are five projects being planned, including an Innovation Center in the ERP, a basketball practice facility, multi-disciplinary research and engineering and two health & biomedical sciences additions, according to the University’s official website.
There are also a few long-range campus projects under consideration, including family housing, freshmen housing, site improvements for the ERP, a health center and parking garages for Houston Public Media Television.
It’s important to realize that many projects do not make it out of the planning stage, but these provide a glimpse of what may be added to the campus in the future. Here’s hoping everyone likes UH’s new look as it continues to evolve.
Opinion columnist Gemrick Curtom is a public relations senior and may be reached at [email protected].