Feature Illustration (above): A concept rendering of the proposed five-story new University of Houston Law Center. Courtesy: Brave/Architecture.
Houston (Harris County) — The University of Houston will be relying on the largesse of the Texas Legislature to raise the majority of what is needed to construct a new five-story building for its law school.
Earlier this week, UH announced that it had raised $10 million toward the goal of $90 million for the new UH Law Center building. This is badly needed infrastructure, since the existing facility is aging and flood-prone.
The Legislature is in session and UH President Renu Khator said he will press the Harris County delegation to champion the school’s cause to the tune of $60 million to support Phase 2 of the fundraising campaign.
“We are committed to providing the best learning environment for our students and faculty to spur success, and this includes upgrading facilities throughout the campus,” Khator said in a prepared statement released Tuesday. “The UH Law Center continues to be nationally recognized, despite challenges with its facility.
“Just imagine what can be accomplished with a modern building equipped with the latest technology.”
Brave/Architecture has prepared preliminary designs that include modern technology and flexible space to enhance student learning and faculty teaching capabilities. Preliminary designs include a modern law library with countless electronic sources, easily accessible legal clinics for the community, mock courtroom and event facilities, parliament-style classrooms, advocacy skills labs, and integrated tech systems.
Construction is scheduled to being in 2021.
The new building would be located adjacent to the current 50-year-old Bates Law Building. In addition to its technological obsolescence, the Bate building never fully recovered from the severe flooding of Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, and more recently from Hurricanes Ike and Harvey.
More than half the building is underground, exposing operational space to recurring water damage during even moderately heavy rainfall. About half of the library space is unusable because of flooding that inflicted about $40 million is losses to its collection.
Conceptual illustration of the new UH Law Library. Courtesy: Brave/Architecture.
The law school operations are currently dispersed among four buildings, but everything will be consolidated into the one building, once completed.
The law building campaign, “More Than Bricks,” is being overseen by UH Law Center alumnus William Jackson, chair of the building campaign and president of the UH Law Foundation. Key campaign coordinators include UHLC dean, Leonard Baynes, and UH Senior Director of Development Magda M. Herrera.
Jackson, a partner at Kelley, Drye & Warren, hopes the $10 million raised to date will demonstrate to the Legislature that there is a groundswell of support for the new building.
“I urge every alumni to contact your legislators and other elected officials, and let them know how important and significant a new building will be for the University of Houston Law Center, the University of Houston System and the city of Houston,” Jackson said. “With a new building, I believe the Law Center’s rankings will move into the top 30 in the country, where it deserves to be.”
Eloise Brice, UH vice president of advancement, said, “We began this fundraising effort with a message about creating a new law center building for the many, by the many, so that future students could see the diversity of alumni, donors, and champions who invested in them. This has been accomplished through gifts big and small, from alumni far and wide and this movement is just beginning.”
Concept illustration of the entrance lobby and staircase of a UH Law Center building. Courtesy: Brave/Architecture.
This article was edited from a UH press release and other UH sources.