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UPDATE: Long-awaited Cullen Fountain lighting ceremony postponed

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The Cullen Family Plaza Fountain will shake off the fencing and officially reopen Aug. 26 at the Cougar Lights ceremony. | Emily Burleson/The Cougar

[alert type=”yellow”]UPDATE: The Cougar Lights ceremony scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday at Butler Plaza has been postponed due to weather concerns. The Cougar will update as soon as the rescheduled date is announced.[/alert]

Finally, the fountain’s back.

After months of construction and years of sitting dry, the Cullen Family Plaza Fountain will reopen with the event Cougar Lights, beginning at 8 p.m. next Friday at the Cullen Family Plaza.

The first 500 guests will receive a commemorative Cougar Lights glow stick. At 9 p.m., an LED light celebration will commence in front of the fountain with remarks by Chancellor and President Renu Khator.

Despite the fountain being closed since winter 2014, actual repairs did not begin until spring 2016. Principal project manager Joujou Zebdaoui said UH Facilities Planning and Construction worked with engineers, contractors and the campus community to rebuild and preserve the fountain and reflecting pool in the most ideal way.

Zebdaoui said repairs were finished ahead of schedule. The team also added LED lights that can be programmed into a colorful light show.

“The fountain was shut off to preserve water and money,” Zebdaoui said. “Our team picked up the project three months ago, so we have actually made quick progress on the project.”

Many students have been anticipating the fountain’s reopening. Nancy Du, a psychology graduate and research assistant at the Personality Across Development Lab, has rarely seen the fountain in action. The fountain was closed almost throughout her entire undergraduate year after she transferred to UH in 2014.

“The times that they did open it up and filled it with water during events were incredibly nice, and it made the University more welcoming and dynamic,” Du said. “The fountain is sort of our own university landmark.”

The fountain was shut down and dried up to work on a number of different problems that had been growing since it was built in 1972. Ground-penetrating radar testing was done to determine the extent of the damage, and the tests revealed where the failing concrete joints and the leaking pipes were.

The reflection pool has been a central landscaping feature of UH since 1937. It was transformed into the plaza it is today in 1977 by Fred Buxton & Associates with a donation from the Cullen family.

With its beautified landscaping, seating elements, a bridged walkway across the fountain’s pool and Lee Kelly’s sculpture “Waterfall, Stele and River,” the plaza has since been a popular photo backdrop for visitors, students and faculty.

Lush landscaping, shaded areas and relaxing running water sounds made the Cullen Fountain a place students can gather and study. This makes the repairs not only important to the campus atmosphere, but also the quality of student life.

Now that the fountain is going to be reopened, it will again play an important role in giving students a scenic area to unwind after class or a calm and quiet place to focus on their studies.

“I’m excited that it’ll be ready soon,” Du said. “I’ll be on campus randomly to see the sight of students relaxing under beautiful weather with birds chirping and water glistening.  It’s a must to see the beautiful fountain reopening.”

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      • As far as I know there were some cost issues for repairing the broken pipes under the ground. However, in the new fountain all pumps and pipings are at the surface with lower costs compared to previous repairing plans.

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