University of Houston Opens Science Teaching Lab, Begins Expansion
The dust is not quite settled on the recent completion of the University of Houston Science Teaching Lab Building and university officials are already prepping for the building’s expansion. Professors and staff occupied the first three floors of the new 78,000 square foot science building in January. Simultaneously, UH facility planners gave Hoar Construction approval to complete construction of half the unfinished shell space on the fourth floor. Hoar expects to finish the build out in November, effectively adding 12,000 square foot of research space to the facility.
The $31.2 million lab is a key component of UH’s increased research capabilities. The first three floors house new undergraduate biology and chemistry labs. Each teaching lab has instructional space for 24 students in six workstations. The flexible configuration allows the students to work individually or in groups of two or four. Every lab station has clear sight lines to the instructor’s demo bench and white board. Chemistry labs have fume hoods, instrumentation benches, and locked drawers for personal lab supplies. The lab service areas are efficiently positioned to provide logistical support for technicians to quickly prep each lab for the next section and maintain high utilization rates. To enhance the learning experience, the building also features multi-media capabilities in each laboratory as well as lounges on each floor, creating places for students and faculty to gather between classes.
Completion of the Science Teaching Lab is the first step in the renovation of the entire Science Complex on the UH campus. In August 2009 alone, the Board of Regents approved $240 million of construction of projects to support pursuit of Tier One status. The Carnegie Foundation elevated University of Houston to a Tier One research university in January 2011, making it one of three public Texas universities with the designation, and the only university in Houston with the designation.
“The Hoar Construction/PGAL team has been great to work with, and has provided a good value. The design thoughtfully uses the campus material palette in inventive ways to create an exciting building that fits well into the campus fabric. This building was an important part of our quest to provide a premier teaching and research setting,” said Kelly Buehler, the university’s project manager for the building.
Hoar Construction does considerable work in the higher education sector nationally and is using that expertise to actively grow their university work throughout Texas.
“UH is known for their strict adherence to safety, quality, and budget issues,” Scott Thetford, Hoar’s senior project manager notes. “Despite the fact the new Science Teaching Lab Building is on one of the busiest corners of campus at Cullen Boulevard and just two inches away from the existing Fleming building, the construction had nominal impact on pedestrian or vehicular safety. By working closely with the PGAL during design, we also stretched the budget to include more interior research space, which is the real heart of the project.”