Construction News

UH to use $100 million to renovate frequented core buildings

Core buildings at UH. Agnes Arnold Hall, Roy G. Cullen, Science Research Building 1, Science building, Science Engineering and research center

Fiona Legesse/The Cougar

The University of Houston System Board of Regents approved a $100 million funding allocation in August to go toward renovating core buildings on campus — those that produce the largest amount of credits for students — through 2024.

Dubbed the Core Renovation project, six buildings will receive renovations. Funding comes from the Higher Education Assistance Fund, funding from the state received annually to improve facilities. The improvements to the six buildings will bring better air conditioning, Wi-Fi and improve the interior looks of buildings.

“The Core Renovation Project is (six) of our oldest facilities where our core classes are taught and have been for a long time,” said Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President Jim McShan.

The six buildings to be renovated are: Agnes Arnold Hall, Roy G. Cullen, Charles F. McElhinney, Science & Research 1, Science Building and Science and Engineering Classroom. These buildings are some of the oldest on campus, all several decades old, except the Science & Engineering Classroom which opened in 2005. McShan said the Core Renovation Project is a series of major renovations rather than one large construction project.

The six buildings have $71 million in deferred maintenance cost, or maintenance postponed until the University had the funds to renovate the buildings. The renovations will include improvements to air conditioning, electrical, Wi-Fi, energy efficiency and interior finishes.

Biology sophomore Sara Bahadori said she doesn’t mind having classes scheduled at Agnes Arnold Hall, but it’s one of the worst buildings for her.

“I just think it’s really old and dirty compared to the other buildings (on campus),” Bahadori said.

Any changes to the number of classrooms in a building will need to be approved by Provost Paula Short, according to Facilities Planning and Construction. Facilities does plan to change some classroom layouts.

After approval by the UH System Board of Regents in August, the next step toward renovations will be finding the right contractor to complete the projects.

Only the Science Building and Science and Engineering Research Center are currently under construction, according to Facilities Planning and Construction. The Science building renovations will cost $15 million, in addition to the $100 million allocated.

School facilities typically have a 25-50 year lifespan, according to a National School Board Association report.

Classes have not been taught at the Science building for several semesters.

The longest leg of renovations will be Science & Research 1. It will begin renovations in Fall 2019 and wrap up in Winter 2024. Agnes Arnold Hall will take two years to renovate, beginning in Fall 2022.

Once the science building is done, it will have host classes for other buildings are under renovation, said Associate Vice Chancellor and Vice President of Facilities, David Oliver.

The Science Building renovations will be done for Fall 2019 classes, according to Facilities Planning and Construction.

“It is the linchpin for the core projects being successful,” Oliver said, because the Science building will host classes as other buildings are under repair.

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