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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Campus

What’s with all the construction on campus


Some of UH’s construction projects include the Centennial Plan and The Hub. | Emily Chambers/The Cougar

Those who have recently visited campus are likely well aware of the ongoing construction around UH. In recent years, the University has risen to new heights, and as such, the campus is undergoing  a facelift to keep pace with the evolving needs of UH students.

In addition to several independent developments, the University has wrapped most of its planned improvements into one master plan, the UH Centennial Plan. As its name suggests, the University hopes to complete many of the renovations and additions featured in the Centennial plan on or before 2027. 

In a presentation to the Student Government Association, Executive Director for University Architecture Christa Rieck said the plan has been in the works for a while and that the University is excited to begin working on transforming the campus.

“About 3 years ago, the president charged us with transforming this campus for our centennial celebration in 2027,” Rieck said. “The main projects that actually got approved are our University Dr. and Cullen Blvd. projects, gateway monuments, landscaping improvements, Centennial Plaza, and campus lighting.”

While much of the plan is focused on developing pedestrian infrastructure and improving green spaces, the gateway project features four arches that will be built around the University’s entrances with the goal of creating a better sense of arrival and departure to and from campus.

Ultimately, what the University aims to create with its Centennial Plan is a more cohesive, unified campus, Reick said.

“We’re always building new structures, but what matters most is the connection between the buildings and the landscape,” Reick said. “What we want to focus on is creating a full experience, not just building more.”

Though Reick’s improvements do largely fall under the Centennial Plan, students won’t have to wait until 2027 to see many of the projects completed. Certain aspects of the plan, such as improved lighting and walkability are expected to be completed well in advance of the centennial. 

Aside from the Centennial Plan, the University has several projects they are working on independent of UH’s 100th anniversary. Most notably, the University is planning on opening a new dining commons called The Hub.

With an emphasis on sustainability, The Hub hopes to reimagine what most people think of when it comes to a college dining hall. It features various shops and cafes for students to choose from and a unique seating design oriented around delivering a communal dining experience.

Chair of the UH food services advisory committee Christopher Caldwell has lofty goals for The Hub. For Caldwell, The Hub represents a sort of home within a home and has charged designers with creating a space that is both comfortable and inviting. 

“Your home is your first place, school is your second place, and we want The Hub to be a student’s third space. They will come there to gather for fellowship and grab a quick bite,” Caldwell said.

The Hub is a large project, clocking in at around 41,000 square feet. Despite its size, the University plans to complete construction on the dining hall by the end of 2024. It will be located on top of the now-derelict Student Center Satellite building.

It’s impossible to deny that a lot is happening at UH these days. For some, the hustle and bustle of constant construction is little more than an annoyance. But for those who see the University’s potential, the construction comes as a long-overdue metamorphosis. 

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