Science and Engineering Research and Classroom Complex, University of Houston

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Houston, Texas, USA
200,000 square feet / 19,000 square meters
2005

This complex houses the expanding College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the College of Engineering. Designed to attract the best researchers, the complex was built to help the University of Houston (UH) reach its goal of becoming a top-ranked research institution.

Sited within the university’s existing science buildings, this 18,580-square-meter (200,000-square-foot) complex provides a gateway to the west side of campus. Its components are a five-story laboratory building, a two-story classroom building, and a 550-seat teaching auditorium. A green central courtyard unifies the complex with adjacent buildings. By retaining mature oak trees, the design creates a pocket park along the edge of the site.

The materials and colors used in the complex are drawn largely from adjacent buildings and the campus. The classroom building—a low, horizontal structure with 11 lecture halls that arc around the courtyard—is clad in a buff-colored brick wall with glass and metal windows. The outdoor stairwells and second-story handrails are perforated metal painted bright red-orange, which echo the school colors and give life to the light-colored brick and white canopy of the arcade. The auditorium, centrally located between the classroom and laboratory buildings, is oval-shaped, clad with red brick in a diamond pattern. The south side of the research building has a limestone curtain wall that includes narrow ribbons of glass and perforated metal sunshades. The shadier, courtyard-facing north side is mostly a glass wall with metal spandrels.

The laboratory building is planned for 40 laboratories, designed in collaboration with UH scientists and engineers. The floorplate allows each laboratory space to be customized according to the needs of researchers. Not intended to serve any one department exclusively, the building can accommodate diverse disciplines.

As part of the UH Percent for Art program, the complex incorporates two works of art by nationally recognized sculptor Jackie Ferrara. Set into the lobby wall to the auditorium is Wall of Towers, a sculpture composed of narrow bands of maple plywood. In the courtyard is the fountain, a triangular form in granite, softly lit with blue LEDs. Deliberately understated, the sculptures are intended to blend with and enhance the architecture.