Construction nears for UH Katy

Construction is expected to start in June on an 80,000-square-foot academic building, the first for the University of Houston at Katy campus at Interstate 10 and the Grand Parkway.

Tellespen Builders set an April 17 deadline for bids for the estimated $33 million building. According to the bid specifications, the three-story building will include general purpose classrooms, engineering studios and a nursing simulation center. Plans call for 400 parking spaces. Students now are attending classes in rental space.

In late 2016, the UH purchased 46 acres at the northeast corner of I-10 and Texas 99 from Parkside Capital. The purchase is the result of work done by a Katy Task Force formed in 2015. But the Katy area was considered for a larger UH presence even before then.

“State Sen. Glenn Hegar and state Rep. Bill Callegari started a Katy community task force in or around 2008 to consider an expanded UH role in Katy,” said Chris Stipes, director of media relations, University of Houston.

UH had operated a campus in Cinco Ranch since 1998 at 4242 S. Mason Road. That campus recently was sold.

The UH Katy academic building will be used by UH Victoria, UH Nursing and UH Engineering and is set to open in the fall 2019.

“The plan is to then grow enrollment in the nursing and engineering programs that will be housed there,” said Stipes.

Groundbreaking is set for May 23 for the Katy academic building, said Jay Neal, associate vice president and chief operating officer for University of Houston at Sugar Land and University of Houston at Katy.

Neal called the building beautiful and said “We’re very mindful this will be the first building, so we’re setting the tone for where we want to go.” The building was designed by Smithgroup JJR + Harrison Kornberg Architects.

Groundbreaking occurred March 23 for the UH College of Technology in Sugar Land. The $54 million, three-story, 100,000-square-foot building will house 10 research labs and programs in construction management and engineering technology. Labs will include a fabrications lab, materials lab, rapid prototype lab and a 3D-printing lab.

In 2012, UH moved its digital media program to UH Sugar Land. That was followed in 2016 by its biotechnology program. The campus is located at 14000 University Blvd.

Tellepsen Builders also is constructing the Sugar Land building, which was designed by Page Architects.

Both the Katy academic and Sugar Land College of Technology buildings are scheduled to open in the fall of 2019. Both also are funded by a 2015 allocation from the 84th Texas Legislature.

Neal anticipates enrollment increases at both campuses after the buildings are completed. This year’s enrollment at Sugar Land already increased by 16 percent over spring of 2017 to more than 2,000 students, he added.

As to Katy, Neal talks about UH’s relationship with the community. The Katy Area Economic Development Council identifies business needs which the university works to meet with its programs. Because of the nearness of the Energy Corridor, the curriculum includes engineering studies.

Neal talks, too, of the nursing program with a bachelor of science degree as another example of the college offering curriculum to target the needs of the nearby population.

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