University of Houston University Center Transformation
The University of Houston’s Student Center underwent a major renovation and expansion on their main campus. Originally, the UH Student Center consisted of two buildings: one was built in the 1960s and consisted of two stories above ground, and one basement level. The second building, added in the early 1970s, was located north of this building and included a basement only.
For the transformation, the 1970s basement was abandoned and in-filled, and horizontal building expansions are planned for both the north and east sides of the original 1960s building. The north side was connected by two 60-foot long bridges. Both expansions are two stories of steel construction above grade, and clad with brick, curtain wall and metal panel. The north expansion houses offices and commons areas, while the east expansion includes a theater, large event spaces and a kitchen. Renovations to the 1960s building include a new lounge and new exterior stair tower. An enhanced outdoor lounge and small stage area will be the home of formal and informal student gatherings for years to come.
Walter P Moore worked with the architect and contractor to eliminate the amount of demolition and construction waste diverted to a landfill from the basement demolition. The basement lid was removed, but the basement walls and floor remain in place. The new north addition foundations were constructed directly on top of the existing basement floor before the area was in-filled.
The original 1960’s building contained an expansion joint directly in the center of the building. The University has struggled for years with unsightly cracking in architectural elements caused by dissimilar building movements on each side of the joint. Walter P Moore devised a way to “stitch” the buildings together so that the “two buildings” acted as one. This eliminates the movement between the two sides and provides a uniform base for applying new architectural elements.