Contributing to this momentum are several planned construction projects designed to promote student success and continue the campus' evolution as a research institution. Among the major projects recently approved by the UH System Board of Regents are the UH Energy Research Park, Health and Biomedical Sciences Center and Stadium Parking Garage.
The UH Energy Research Park will be at the site of the University Business Park - familiar to many as a site once belonging to Schlumberger. The current site consists of 74 acres with 15 buildings providing 682,877 square feet of mixed use facility space, plus developable land of 19 acres. Research and education will be at the heart of this facility, which will be home to many of the UH energy research-related centers and institutes. These include the Structures Lab of the Diesel Vehicle Research and Testing Facility, the Lone Star Wind Alliance, Texas Bio Products Industry Council and an Energy Demonstration Project that will address the transmission of wind power from remote source to urban centers.
The project includes the renovation of a $2.4 million warehouse facility, $20 million in renovations to University Business Park and $20 million in infrastructure and site improvements.
"This is one of the most exciting announcements ever made at the University of Houston," said Welcome Wilson Sr., chairman of the UH System Board of Regents. "The possibilities for this facility are endless. It is my hope that we can move forward aggressively in recruiting the personnel needed to develop our growing portfolio of energy research projects that will be housed there."
The Health and Biomedical Sciences Center will be a 167,000-square-foot facility that will house laboratories, academic space and surgical facilities. Connected to the College of Optometry (at Wheeler Avenue and Calhoun Road), it will provide laboratory space and accommodate resources for the College of Optometry's faculty, students and patients. It also will be a center for collaborative research efforts between faculty and students across a host of disciplines. Its construction budget is $70 million. Work is scheduled to begin on this facility in August 2010 and is expected to wrap in May 2012.
"The Health and Biomedical Sciences Center will be UH's first truly interdisciplinary research facility at UH that will incorporate researchers from the colleges of Optometry, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Engineering, Natural Sciences and Mathematics and Pharmacy," said David Francis, director of the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics and a Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor.
To be located at the corner of Holman Street and Cullen Boulevard (across from Hofheinz Pavilion), the Stadium Parking Garage will include a 2,000 - 2,400-space parking facility, as well as 10,000 square feet of mixed use space. The garage is part of the Campus Framework Plan and will be designed to enhance the game day experience for Cougar fans. Construction is scheduled to begin in April 2010 and completed by July 2011. Its construction budget is $26 million.
Also approved by the regents is the 112,000-square-foot Classroom and Business Building, which will be at the northeast area of campus near Melcher Hall. Construction on the $31 million facility will begin in August 2010 and is scheduled to be completed one year later.
The board also voted to continue enhancements to the Science Engineering and Research Center (SERC). The third phase of its renovation will focus on building labs in SERC's east wing's third floor, which accommodates synthetic organic chemistry research, and fifth floor, which houses microbiology research. Work on this phase begins in November and will be completed in June 2011. The project's budget is $12 million.
A 5,000-square-foot addition to the Communication Building also was approved by regents. The project will create new classrooms and production studios, as well as an expansion of lobby and office space. Construction on the $2.8 million project will break ground in March 2010 and is scheduled for completion in August 2010. Assisting this addition is the recent $1.5 million gift to the school from UH alumnus Lance Funston.
"Our campus is in a state of constant growth," said Dave Irvin, associate vice president of plant operations. "We are building a bigger and better university that is focused on enhancing our service to students and the community."