As universities change, so do their landmarks, but in the case of the iconic Cullen Family Plaza Fountain, it’s waded through troubled waters in recent years.
Since the inception of the University of Houston campus in the late 1930s, the plaza—it formerly included a reflection pool—has been a central landscaping feature.
Dedicated in 1972, the plaza honors the Cullen family, whose tradition of giving to UH dates back to the 1930s. In preparation for the dedication, landscape architect Fred Buxton transformed the reflection pool into the large water pool with fountains that exists today.
Situated in between the Ezekiel Cullen Building, Roy Cullen Building, Farish Hall and Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall, the Cullen Family Plaza is the social heart of the University’s sprawling campus.
By 2014, that heart was in need of a serious check-up, so UH Facilities Planning and Construction did an extensive assessment, including the concrete, underlying pipes, water jets and filtering system. The results showed that rigorous work needed to be done. That was followed by a major repair and restoration.
This year, Cougars—past and present—can reminisce about 45 years worth of fond memories. That might include the time they enjoyed a meal on the lawn with friends, studied for an exam, took graduation photos with the water rushing through Lee Kelly’s “Waterfall, Stele and River” sculpture in the background or the time they fell in love, all under the watchful eyes of the two bronze cougar sculptures that stand guard nearby.
The fountain restoration is complete with new water jets, LED-colored lighting and an upgraded electrical system. So, this symbol of UH pride will continue to flow for decades to come.