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Sunday, March 7, 2021

Campus

UH to construct new plaza ahead of centennial


UH plans to build a centennial plaza, increase walkability and expand green spaces as part of a long-term centennial construction project. | Christopher Charleston/The Cougar

UH plans to build a centennial plaza, increase walkability and expand green spaces as part of a long-term centennial construction project. | Christopher Charleston/The Cougar

The University plans to construct a plaza where the College of Education currently sits to commemorate the school’s centennial in 2027.

Announced in President Khator’s fall address, the centennial construction project will include building a new facility for the College of Education in an alternative location and increasing green space between the E. Cullen buildings and McElhinney Hall.

The project intends to create a more walkable and collaborative campus space with shaded walkways and more gated entrances.

“The goal is to create a stronger first impression by celebrating the heart and life of the University,” said David Oliver, associate vice president of Facilities and Construction Management.

“New plazas, parks and landscape improvements will make the University more welcoming while transforming the student experience. Our students are our most valuable resource and we are steadfast in our commitment to offering them the best college experience possible,” Oliver added.   

Khator also expressed interest in expanding the improvement project into the surrounding Third Ward neighborhood in an Oct. 28 press conference, but did not explain what this would require.

Advertising junior Jose Aldaco thinks the centennial construction project will encourage future students to attend the University by improving the campus’s appearance and help in future rankings.

“This will probably bring more people to our campus, since we are a commuter school and there’s not a lot of people who live (on campus),” Aldaco said. “If (the centennial masterplan committee is) going to make it look better around the whole campus, then it will be pleasant to walk around and enjoy the campus more.”

A date has not been set to start construction, but improvements will be completed over the course of several years leading up to the centennial, said Oliver.

Some students are concerned about the impact that construction could have on campus operations leading up to completion.

“It’s good for the campus but construction will be annoying,” exploratory studies freshman Reed Staffa said. “I just hope they are done with all of the construction by the time I’m still here (in) four years.” 

The construction plan is a long-term master vision of campus that will incorporate upcoming capital construction projects and possible donor participation, said Oliver.

“Our preliminary plans connect people, places and disciplines across the University, creating a campus everyone can be proud of,” Oliver said. “In addition to aesthetic improvements, increased lighting and increased resilience to flood and drought conditions are also being considered.”  

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