Campus News

UH ranked among most beautiful ‘value’ campuses in the country

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UH was recently named one of the most beautiful campuses. | Photo by of Hedaya Kelani | The Cougar.

With more than 260 public artworks across campus and $220 million invested to improving the campus, Great Value Colleges, an online guide to colleges, has taken note of UH’s efforts and ranked the school among value colleges with the most beautiful campuses.

Great Value Colleges said many well-known aspects of the University, such as the nearby Brays Bayou, Cullen Family Plaza fountain and public art, contributed to its rating.

“There isn’t one specific reason, but rather numerous factors working in tandem that has led to UH receiving this wonderful distinction,” Emily Messa, chair member for the UH System Wide Art Acquisition Committee, said. “One key reason is the University’s commitment to purposeful public spaces, which makes those areas feel well-planned and inviting to everyone who walks through them. Our dedicated and caring landscaping staff also have played an important role in keeping our campus looking great.”

The article also mentioned the Ezekiel W. Cullen Building as the “architectural centerpiece” of campus, noting its Art Deco style. 

Messa said curating public art has been a UH priority since 1969.

“The new landscaping, more interesting architecture that references the older buildings, plus the amazing artwork placed all over campus all contribute to the overall look and feel of campus,” public art curator Mike Guidry said. “Most university campuses have little to no art, and we here at UH are very fortunate.”

Some of the artworks around campus include Fiesta Dancers by Luis Jimenez at Wheeler Street and Cullen Boulevard, Flow by Kendall Buster at the Health & Biomedical Sciences Building and Origin by Brian Tolle at Cemo Hall. Guidry said UH has guidelines for choosing different art for the campus.

“We look for talented, creative artists who not only have a track record for creating public art but also have national and international reputations and critical acclaim who can create something exciting for UH,” he said.

These artistic investments have helped create an inspiring and creative atmosphere for students and were made possible by the Percent for Art program, which dedicates one percent of building construction budgets for public art; UH’s program was the first of its kind in Texas when it started in 1966.

Messa said each piece of art on campus is unique in its own way, and moves her in different ways.

“With some of them, you have to consider the historical context in which they were created,” Messa said. “Others may lead you to wonder about the artist who made it or think about the materials that were used to form it.”

UH continues to update its campus with landscaping, art and new building construction.

“UH will always be a beautiful place because so many people – students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and the Houston community – care deeply about our campus,” Messa said. “When you care about a place, you want that place to be and look its best, and you invest time and resources to ensure that it does.”

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  • Let’s not talk about the pieces that disappear when a building is renovated. Two pieces especially that I notice since the 70s when I attended, the centerpiece longhorn, cougar, owl collage from the UC, and something that resembled Rodin’s Thinker that formerly was in front of Cullen Performance Hall. Both were large bronzes.

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