"This is not only a symbolic step but realistically moves us closer to having the building finished," said Dick Phillips, associate vice chancellor of the University of Houston System-Sugar Land. "The building represents a major step toward the maturation and development of the campus and is a win-win for everyone."
The ceremony will include representatives of those directly involved with the construction signing the beam before a crane hoists it to the top of the new building.
Construction of the more than $35-million building, located on the southwest corner of U.S. Highway 59 and University Boulevard, began in October. Classes are scheduled to start in January in the building, which will serve both Wharton County Junior College and UH System students.
The academic building is being funded through public and private donations, including $22.9 million in tuition revenue bonds from the University of Houston-Victoria and $3.5 million from the City of Sugar Land. The "Building Futures Together" campaign, which began in May 2005 to support the construction, has raised $4 million from the George Foundation and $2 million through private donors.
"This construction would not have been possible without many partners working together," said Tim Hudson, president of UHV, which oversees administration of UHSSL. "Everyone who contributed to the project has placed a priority on meeting the educational needs of the Fort Bend area and the state during a time when there are competing funding priorities in the Texas Legislature."
The three-story building will add approximately 150,000 square feet to the existing Sugar Land campus. Wharton County Junior College will lease about two-thirds of the building from the UH System.
The joint facility will increase space, while saving money, for both UHSSL and WCJC. By sharing some administrative expenses, labs, classrooms and student services, the institutions can reduce duplicated services. The new building also will allow students to get their degrees on a single campus with lower- and upper-level courses.
"Wharton County Junior College looks forward to working with the University of Houston System-Sugar Land to offer the community the convenience of obtaining all of their higher-education courses at one location," WCJC President Betty McCrohan said. "In addition to making it easier for students to receive a four-year degree at one campus, the new facility will save our students time and money."
The building will house about 50 classrooms; a 157-seat auditorium; faculty offices; a bookstore; a student lounge; weight and aerobics rooms; a multipurpose room with seating for 350 people; conference rooms; a student center for the community college; and computer, science and nursing skills labs.
UHSSL will grow even more when construction of a new Fort Bend County library begins hopefully before the end of the year. The 45,000-square-foot library is anticipated to take about 13 months to build. About 10,000 square feet will be dedicated for UHSSL and WCJC students.
"This campus is a wonderful partnership between the University of Houston System, Wharton County Junior College, the City of Sugar Land, Fort Bend County, the George Foundation and private donors," said Wayne Beran, UHV vice president for administration and finance.
Archi*technics/3 and PageSoutherlandPage designed the new academic building, while the contractor is Skanska USA Building Inc. To see the construction in progress, go to www.sugarland.uh.edu and click on the photo gallery to see still pictures or the real-time link to see live streaming video.
ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON SYSTEM
The University of Houston System is the state's only metropolitan higher education system, encompassing four universities and two multi-institution teaching centers. The universities are the University of Houston, a nationally recognized doctoral degree-granting, comprehensive research university; the University of Houston-Downtown, a four-year undergraduate university beginning limited expansion into graduate programs; and the University of Houston-Clear Lake and the University of Houston-Victoria, both upper division and master's-level institutions. The centers are the UH System at Sugar Land in Fort Bend and the UH System at Cinco Ranch. In addition, the UH System includes KUHF-FM, Houston's National Public Radio and classical radio station, and KUHT-TV, the nation's first educational television station.