University of Houston Garage + Studios
Houston, Texas United States
As part of a larger master plan to create density and enhance the pedestrian experience, the University of Houston (UH) Garage + Studios will serve the arts and architecture colleges with teaching and student spaces, a food service facility and much needed parking.
Located in the northeast quadrant of campus, the UH Garage + Studios is a 780,000-square-foot structure. A hybrid program, the project includes a two-story 50,000-square-foot academic building for students and faculty of Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts and the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design as well as parking and transportation offices and a five-level parking garage to accommodate 2,536 vehicles.
The academic building is a long bar located along the south elevation of the garage. It faces a new campus roadway and an existing student fabrication building, with the lawn of the College of Architecture and Design beyond. The design—including brick to match the architecture building—and landscape engage the existing campus buildings to establish connectivity and encourage students to walk in the district.
Composed of three volumes, its brick and metal-panel clad façades are marked by punched windows with delicate sunshades. The building is dedicated to studios, classrooms, offices and support spaces. It will consolidate all arts studio spaces, which currently reside in disparate are of the campus, and augment the existing digital fabrication facilities for the architecture students. Much of the interior, especially the studio spaces, is intentionally left raw ensuring flexibility for its artist users. Large open spaces, flexibility and access to natural light are prioritized with many spaces that blur lines between the interior and exterior. In the areas adjoining the garage, a clerestory, multiple floor openings and interior glazing all provide direct and borrowed natural light. Spaces like the sculpture studio have tall ceilings and ample space. A gantry can move large art pieces and materials from the adjoining truck dock and around the outdoor work area, where the students benefit from the natural ventilation and security.
To engage the campus a dramatic 180-foot long ipe deck extends from the center building to the street. A grove of legacy trees is united by this elevated deck and creates a welcoming entry to the building and garage. It also functions as a study and gathering space activated with seating areas and a selection of sculptures from the UH collection. Elevated walkways, flanked by rain gardens, extend from the deck.
The linear rain gardens are filled with a robust landscape of native plants, enhancing the pedestrian experience and mitigating the impact of street run off during a flood event. Resilient design elements also include elevating the building two-feet. Additional street enhancements contribute to a better pedestrian experience and create stronger relationships between the existing campus, the new building and garage.
Efficiency and technology are prioritized in the parking garage. The garage is fully integrated with the academic building to maximize circulation and space. It also facilitates campus connectivity. It has a 90-degree parking layout with all vehicle circulation occurring in parking zones; the design includes minimal IT rooms, and elevators are outside the garage primary footprint and are shared with the building. Additionally the third level of the garage aligns with the upper level of the building, allowing direct access from parking for moving larger student art pieces. The cascading dual ramp system allows rapid vertical movement through the garage. Wayfinding signage and technology enhance the user experience. A guidance system identifies the number of spaces on each level available and individual indicator lights note status of each parking spot.
Security both in the garage and on campus are also important. In addition to the garage open floor plates with natural ventilation, LED lighting, access to WiFi, security cameras and bluephones are included.
The mixed use building allowed the design team to come up with a singular robust and resilient solutions for infrastructure, circulation and drainage. The building components support each other while also contributing to the campus life.
Page is providing architecture, interiors, MEP engineering and wayfinding services. Martinez Moore is providing consulting for parking, as well as structural, civil, and traffic engineering. Flintco is the CM at risk.