The HUB Groundbreaking - University of Houston
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By Jesus Acevedo Jr.

Construction will soon be underway on The Hub, a two-story, 41,000 square-foot facility that will replace The Satellite, an underground center that was a favorite of students and staff for decades. To celebrate this milestone, the University held a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, April 22nd.

The Satellite, which opened in the early 70s, had been hampered by constant flooding issues over the past years. Aside from flooding issues, the Satellite has significant infrastructural problems like lack of natural light and visibility.

  • HUB Rendering
  • HUB Rendering
In late 2019, the University of Houston System Board of Regents approved the closure of the Satellite and for it to be replaced with a new dining commons facility – The Hub.

Planning for The Hub began in 2018, and students have been actively involved in the development process.

Christopher Caldwell, a UH graduate student studying business management and leadership, chairs the Food Services Advisory Committee and helped re-imagine the space in collaboration with UH Auxiliary Services and Chartwells Higher Education, the UH System’s dining services partner.

“Your home is your first place; school is your second place. We want The Hub to be a student’s third space. They will come there to gather for fellowship and grab a quick bite,” said Caldwell. “This will not be just another food court, but rather a student-centered space on campus that is comfortable and welcoming to everyone.”
  • Pictured left to right: Charles Pereira, VP of Operations for Chartwells, Andy Tandon, Vice President and General Manager for Turner Construction, Dr. Andrew Davis, Dean of the College of Arts, Dr. Emily Messa, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor of Administration, Joshua Martin, Student Government Association President, Raymond Bartlett, Senior Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance, Dr. Daniel Maxwell, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, David Oliver, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities/Construction Management, Ron Stelmarski, Design Director/Principal for Perkins & Will (architecture firm). 
Designed by architecture firm Perkins & Will, with Turner Construction Company as the general contractor, the nearly $40 million project is part of a larger campus dining strategy to improve food access, increase serving space to meet growing enrollment, provide more variety and enhance student engagement.

Offering an open floor plan where freshly prepared food is made directly in front of guests, the food hall will provide an authentic experience and environment, according to Emily Messa, UH senior associate vice president for administration.

“The food hall is a special experience as it puts cooks back in the stations, eliminates machine-made food, and pulls together all the elements of locality, socialization, technology, and worldly culinary experiences that are so important to our students,” said Messa.

While the restaurant concepts are yet to be determined, student surveys were conducted in 2019 and 2021. Tacos, Asian fusion, Mediterranean, and burger concepts were the most popular choices.

Incorporating a diverse set of food options, including international cuisines, is a top priority and essential to the success of the food hall, Messa added.
  • HUB groundbreaking
    Auxiliary Services and Cougar Card team, pictured left to right: Sarah Cantu, Communication and Outreach Manager for Auxiliary Services, Rosie Ashley, Director of Cougar Card and Food Service, Esmerelda Valdez, Executive Director of University Services, Deborah Huebler, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services, Dr. Emily Messa, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor of Administration, Shasta

The Hub, scheduled to open in Spring 2024, will have community tables to allow visitors to connect with their peers, outdoor patio seating that offers scenic views of the large-scale public art, and action seats that give guests a view of their food being prepared.

In total, The Hub will accommodate up to 400 customers.

Sustainability efforts will be reflected in purchasing decisions, building materials, and packaging selections and displayed throughout the facility.

“Our students and faculty need a building to be inviting, that inspires discovery, and is memorable. The use of natural light and connectivity to the exterior will make The Hub a destination and landmark that showcases campus life,” said David Oliver, UH associate vice president for facilities/construction management.

This unique retail environment will feature modern architectural designs and engaging environmental features inside and out. Once completed, The Hub will revolutionize the campus dining experience and become a premier dining spot for students, faculty, and staff.

  • Pictured left to right: Joshua Martin, SGA President, Arsalan Darbin, immediate past president of SGA, Shasta, Derek Layne, SGA Vice President