OJB is set to reimagine the University of Houston’s historic campus for its centennial in 2027

100 Trips Around the Sun

OJB is set to reimagine the University of Houston’s historic campus for its centennial in 2027

The University of Houston is reimagining its campus in preparation for 2027, its centennial. (Courtesy Design Workshop)

The University of Houston (UH) turns 100 years old in 2027. In preparation of the centennial, UH has invited OJB Landscape Architecture to reimagine several key points within the campus that will create a “stronger first impression of the University as well as enduring memories,” according to a press release. The landscaping project is part of UH president Renu Khator’s long-term campus improvement centennial master plan that seeks to prepare the institution for the future and become a Top 50 public university in the nation.

“Our centennial plan is a transformative project,” Khator said in a statement. “The University of Houston is a crucial part of the fourth largest city in the country, and having a welcoming campus that everyone can be proud of is paramount. This reimagination will create a sense of place, community and learning, while also promoting health and well-being not only for our students, but for all Houstonians.”

Conceptual rendering of University Drive (Courtesy UH designLAB)

Thanks to a $35 million investment, OJB will design a new multi-purpose gathering space called Centennial Plaza located in the campus’s historic core.  The upgrade will create a new assembly space, on the campus’s original quad area, as a place where students, faculty, alumni, and the community can congregate for ceremonies, athletic events, and community gatherings. The revamped green space will be fitted with trees for shading, seating areas, and plantings.

Centennial Plaza before (Courtesy University of Houston)
Centennial Plaza after (Courtesy Design Workshop)

The landscape and urban design firm OJB will also redesign University Drive and several monumental gateways into the campus while providing new, sustainable landscape and stormwater management infrastructure. Targeted landscaping improvements will happen at Lynn Eusan Park, Cougar Woods, Butler Plaza, and the campus woodland from the Science and Research 1 building to the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design.

“We envision University Drive as a pedestrian-first environment complete with outdoor ‘rooms’ anchored by public art and dining spaces. It’s a compelling concept that will truly make our campus more welcoming and inviting,” said Jim Taylor, UH’s campus architect.

University Drive before (Courtesy University of Houston)
University Drive after (Courtesy UH designLAB)

“So much of the student and campus experience is found in the spaces in between buildings: its landscape and open spaces,” added Chip Trageser, partner in charge for OJB. “We know that spending time outdoors is beneficial for social connection, as well as improved mental and physical health. Creating inclusive spaces for people to come together is at the core of innovation. The Centennial Plan strengthens these experiences, not only from a physical point of view, but also as an expression of the University of Houston’s values and mission.”

Design at OJB has already begun. Previously, the firm completed Aggie Park at Texas A&M University, and noteworthy designs at Baylor, Texas Tech, and Rice.

Construction at UH is set to begin in summer 2024 and finish in 2026.