Summer Construction in full swing at UH

Each year, the University of Houston becomes a bigger and better campus.

A host of new facilities and utilities are contributing to the university's evolution. This summer, several construction projects will contribute to this growth.

"Summer always is a busy season here on campus," said David Irvin, associate vice president of plant operations. "With less students and fewer activities on campus, the summer months allow us to work on projects without disrupting the university community."

Two major projects that have been in full swing since last year will be completed in time for the fall semester: Calhoun Lofts and East Garage.

At the lofts, window installations and masonry work are just about complete. The facility's niche spaces such as its theater room, sky lounge, atriums and open-air terrace are still being built.

"Many of the wings are just about finished," Irvin said. "The last wing to be completed is on the west side of the building, which faces the Cullen College of Engineering. This $108 million project is still going full-steam ahead and is scheduled to be completed by August."

Across the street from the lofts, the East Garage, which will hold 1,500 vehicles, will offer convenient parking options for lofts residents, as well as other members of the campus community. A pre-cast structure, the garage already has taken shape, but Irvin said there is still much internal work to be completed including electrical wiring and elevator installations. Portions of the garage are scheduled to be available for use by early August, and the entire project is expected to wrap in September. The cost to build this garage is $18 million.

Near the lofts and garage, work continues on Cemo Hall. Construction on this state-of-the-art classroom facility is continuing. Site and utility work will wrap this month, and in June, construction on the facility's structural foundation will begin. The cost to build this building is $9 million.

"This is a compact building, so it can be built fairly quickly," Irvin said. "Our goal is for Cemo Hall to open by January 2010."

As these projects progress, major utility work soon will begin on the southeast end of campus. In June, new utility lines will be excavated through Lynn Eusan Park and Entrance 1 to help improve drainage in buildings such as E. Cullen and the M.D. Anderson Library. These lines also will benefit the new undergraduate residence hall, which is scheduled to begin construction.

Work on the residence hall also will have an immediate impact on faculty, staff and students who park in Lots 5A and 5B. Both of these lots will close in June. Those who park in these lots will have to register for an ungated or garage permit or sign up on the wait lists of one of the other gated lots.

With hurricane season approaching, UH also will devote resources to emergency-preparedness projects. Among these is the addition of generators to Hofheinz Pavilion, the Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) and the Cullen College of Engineering. Each generator will cost $1 million.

"These will be huge generators of about 1,500 to 2,000 kilowatts," Irvin said. "Each one can power an entire building. We are using these for key research buildings to avoid losing critical data or materials. We're also using one for Hofheinz, so we can use this facility to host offices or classrooms in the event of an emergency."

To help power these generators in the event of an emergency, a $700,000 diesel farm will be placed next to UH's General Services building. The location, Irvin said, is perfect for this fuel facility. Tanker trucks will have easy access to it from Interstate 45, and it is located far from academic spaces.

"We have worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency and other groups to ensure that this diesel farm is safe, secure and adheres to all state and federal regulations," he said. "We hope to complete this project before the beginning of the fall semester."

Roof repairs and replacements for 24 campus buildings that were damaged during Hurricane also Ike are among this summer's projects. These roofing renovations and repairs will cost $10 million.

For updates on these and other UH construction projects, visit: