BOKA Powell is a recognized leader in the design and planning of higher education facilities. Our extensive experience working with higher education systems and private developers in both design/build and traditional project delivery methods enables us to understand the challenges faced by colleges and universities today in providing best-in-class facilities consistent with existing campus architecture, under tight budgets and schedules.
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The University of Houston Wheeler Hall is a freshman housing complex totaling 2,046 beds in two equal phases. Sited along the southern edge of the campus, the project fills a void in the campus fabric between two existing housing complexes and defines the edge of the University. The concrete frame building is clad with a brick and glass façade, which relates to nearby campus buildings and provides a distinctly residential expression to the complex. The typical four student residential suites are grouped into living/learning communities, termed neighborhoods, with one resident advisor for every 32 students. These neighborhoods share either a study lounge or a social space which in turn serve the entire community of students. Administrative offices, classroom space, computer labs, multifunction space, and a convenience store are included at the ground level and are organized to encourage use by all students, both those residing in the complex and in nearby housing facilities. The two phases are organized on the site so that the image of the project from both the University and the adjoining neighborhood is that of a uniform building, reinforcing the idea that the complex completes the residential district. Once inside the complex however, a series of dynamic and active spaces reveal themselves to the students as places to live, study, socialize and play. The site is bisected by a pedestrian mall providing all students access to the adjacent dining hall to the east.