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http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/h...inment/2981242#

New building stands out amidst the Texas Medical Center's sterile architecture

By CLIFFORD PUGH

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

UT Nursing School

Hester + Hardaway / Bnim Architects

Quick: Name a stunning work of architecture in the Texas Medical Center.

Don't be surprised if nothing much comes to mind.

The Medical Center has a history of tearing down significant buildings, such as the Shamrock Hotel, and putting up a hodgepodge of oversized institutional structures devoid of personality.

Of course, one might argue that the primary purpose of the renowned medical complex of hospitals, research and education institutions located about five miles south of downtown Houston is to save lives, not to create innovative, striking buildings.

Is it possible to do both?

Bruce Webb, professor at the University of Houston's Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, believes so -- although it's not easy.

"Most people's complaint about going to medical facilities is that they lack feeling," he said. "They seem to be facilities without compassion.

"(But) it's a hard thing (to push for good design) when everyone is angling for money and someone is using the argument that a particular material should be used because it's easy to clean germs off of."

The tug-of-war between good architecture and the bottom line makes the new University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing and Student Community Center special.

In a sea of bland and downright inhospitable buildings, the $58 million structure, which opened to classes in August, is a jewel. It's visually appealing and friendly to the environment and the students who use it.

It's no wonder the building is winning design awards and attracting university administrators from across the country and around the world who are curious about its energy-saving features and starkly modern design.

At last, it seems a Texas Medical Center building has gotten it right, architecturally.

It all began with an idea

From the building's conception in the mid-1990s, UTHSC administrators John Poretto and Brian Yeoman, with the support of former president M. David Low, touted a novel idea: Since the university is in the business of promoting good health, shouldn't the building be healthy, too?

In 1996, UT officials sponsored an international design competition. The winner, Patkau Architects of Vancouver, British Columbia, came up with a design that met the high standards of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Four years later, the project, stalled on the drawing board, was nearly scuttled after the Canadian architects and UT parted ways over costs and design changes.

Two firms were brought in to redesign the building. Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell Architects of Kansas City is a pioneer in sustainable design; its Deramus Education Pavilion at that city's zoo won an Earth Day award from the American Institute of Architects.

San Antonio's Lake/Flato Architects won the prestigious AIA Firm of the Year award in 2003. Its trademark, reflected in several Texas Hill Country residences and such commercial structures as the SBC Center in San Antonio, is designing buildings that blend in with the Texas landscape.

After winning the commission, the new design team, led by BNIM principal architect Steve McDowell and Lake/Flato co-founder David Lake, met for a brainstorming session.

The project site -- a sliver of land between the UT School of Public Health and tiny Grant Fay Park, at the intersection of Holcombe and Bertner -- presented the first challenge. Putting a large building on such a small site was "like threading a needle," said former UTHSC campus architect Rives Taylor.

To maximize space, the design team came up with the idea of a "stacked" community center, with six floors of offices, classrooms and research laboratories above two floors of student-friendly facilities, including a large lounge, cafeteria, auditorium and bookstore.

The eight-story building takes up most of the lot but doesn't overwhelm the surroundings, unlike the Taj Mahal-like new M.D. Anderson Ambulatory Clinical Building across the street.

Ingenious and sustainable materials

Lake/Flato took the lead in designing the exterior, composed almost entirely of recycled materials. Bricks from a 19th-century warehouse in San Antonio, wood siding made of sinker cypress hauled from the bottom of the Mississippi River, panels of recycled aluminum and columns made of Flyash (a recycled byproduct of coal-burning) fit together on the Holcombe Avenue side of the building like a giant Erector set.

The Bertner facade is wrapped in perforated, corrugated metal, with window cutouts peeking through like sleepy eyes. It faces west, so in the afternoon, the sun casts the silver metal facade with a golden hue.

Inverted L-shaped steel rods on the roof, which are intended to one day hold a photovoltaic system providing solar energy, lend a sculptural feeling to the building and add a playful note to the neighborhood.

The team from BNIM concentrated on interior design, and here the building shines. Most stairways, elevators and toilets are on the west side of the building, leaving the east side open to Grant Fay Park. Nearly the entire back of the building is windowed, allowing a view of the trees in the small park

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On the side of that article they have a list of other "gems in the Texas Medical Center". Did anyone else knew that Univesity of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer center plans to demolish the UT Houston Main Building (formerly Prudential Building/1101 Holcombe) in 2007 to make room for expansion. I'd like to know what you guys think about this.

More info on the Houston Main Building

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On the side of that article they have a list of other "gems in the Texas Medical Center".  Did anyone else knew that Univesity of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer center plans to demolish the UT Houston Main Building (formerly Prudential Building/1101 Holcombe) in 2007 to make room for expansion.  I'd like to know what you guys think about this.

More info on the Houston Main Building

Check out Houston Mod's Website about attepmts to save the building.

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OOH, if they tear down that old building, I will be SOO pissed...

I love that old relic. Its a nice old building set amongst gleaming new structures. If anything, they really should push forward with their proposal to buy the land once the Military reserve bases move from OST to Ellington (lots of land!)

The TMC is truly an awesome place.

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OOH, if they tear down that old building, I will be SOO pissed...

I love that old relic.  Its a nice old building set amongst gleaming new structures.  If anything, they really should push forward with their proposal to buy the land once the Military reserve bases move from OST to Ellington (lots of land!)

The TMC is truly an awesome place.

I think the med center has already got those government properties on OST.

By the way, I noticed yesterday that there seems to be activity at 1911 Holcombe.. There's an address sign that's new and the '20-something- year-old temporary' sales building for the Spires looks like it's being moved. There was earth-moving equipment on the site. Barricades also went up on Holcombe east of Bray's Bayou to Almeda, making that strech four lanes. Anyone know what going on other than the Lyme proposal for 1911?

Three construction trailers have recently been moved to the vacant UT land along Cambridge Street behind the Med Center Kroger, OST@Cambridge.

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Isnt that the LYME PROPERTIES lot? I heard that they are going to build a research building on that land (there was an article a few weeks back).

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Isnt that the LYME PROPERTIES lot?  I heard that they are going to build a research building on that land (there was an article a few weeks back).

Yes, 1911 is the Lyme property. Supposedly, they plan on a 500K sq ft building. The lot seems small for that size building. The new Cambridge Street bridge will cross Bray's Bayou between there and the Ronald McDonald House, connecting to MacGreggor at the Confederate monument. It's next door to the 40-story Spires condo, which sits on a similarly sized lot. I think 1911 was originally planned to be the location of a Spires twin. Retail is rumored to be part of the ground floor plans, which is sorely needed. Lack of retail is the major drawback to living in the eastern and southern Med center. The new developments in the area bounded by Almeda, Dixie, Grand, and S. MacGreggor should help with the demographics for retail, along with the rehab'ed Nabisco plant and the new extension of Cambridge St. which slices off a piece of the Vetern's Hospital campus as it passes from OST to Holcombe. What I was wondering about, though, was what is happening on Holcombe? That stretch of road was not in bad shape and it is happening at the same time as the massive improvement on Almeda between Holcombe north to beyond MacGreggor. Sewer enlargements maybe?

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On the side of that article they have a list of other "gems in the Texas Medical Center".  Did anyone else knew that Univesity of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer center plans to demolish the UT Houston Main Building (formerly Prudential Building/1101 Holcombe) in 2007 to make room for expansion.  I'd like to know what you guys think about this.

More info on the Houston Main Building

I would say that it is a gem. Not spectacular but one of the relatively few remaining examples of late Art Deco large commercial in Houston.

I consider Art-Deco, which sort of morphed in "Mod" , the mother of all 20th century styles.

Without knowing the logistics of making the old building serve their purposes, I say they should save the old girl. I believe that it is a sign of a higher state of cultural evolution to consider the historic and aesthetic aspects of all large, commercial projects, even if a lesser profit is made. Easy for me to sit here and say that.

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I would say that it is a gem. Not spectacular but one of the relatively few remaining examples of late Art Deco large commercial in Houston.

I consider Art-Deco, which sort of morphed in "Mod" , the mother of all 20th century styles.

Without knowing the logistics of making the old building serve their purposes, I say they should save the old girl. I believe that it is a sign of a higher state of cultural evolution to consider the historic and aesthetic aspects of all large, commercial projects, even if a lesser profit is made. Easy for me to sit here and say that.

Back in the 70s (I think), I remember the Prudential building's sign, which was blue neon. It had the company logo (the Rock) and took up the the top part of the tower. The grid that held the sign is still there. You could see it from all over the south side of town. I spoke with an administrator at MD Anderson who works in the building. She was quite defensive and in-my-face about the looming destruction: "MD Anderson owns it and we're tearing it down." Though she will not make the final decision, I think her statement says a lot about the culture over there. They don't care because they don't care. I hate to say it but I think that building is history.

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Well, the Med Center figures they got away with demolishing the Shamrock - one of the most famous buildings ever in Houston - so they're not going to lose sleep over the Prudential. They have admitted that the existing Prudential building can be renovated, they just don't want to spend the extra money.

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Well, the Med Center figures they got away with demolishing the Shamrock - one of the most famous buildings ever in Houston - so they're not going to lose sleep over the Prudential.  They have admitted that the existing Prudential building can be renovated, they just don't want to spend the extra money.

I might be out in left field, but I think a restored historic landmark building might provide an uplifting, serene atmosphere of beauty, dignity & respect for the past for cancer patients, but maybe they're afraid anything "old" would give off a subtle aura of death.

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One of those new MD Anderson buildings is solely being built to house one treatment machine. The machine is HUGE.

gantry.jpg

Proton Therapy Center

-Location: Old Spanish Trail

-Construction Start: May 2003

-Move In: October 2006

-Facility Use: Patient treatment with proton beam therapy

-Approximate Cost: $120 million

-Total Square Footage: 87,000 sq ft

Overview

Construction of the 78,000-square-feet Proton Therapy Center (PTC) began in May 2003. The facility is a collaborative effort between several organizations. The radiation oncology facility use proton beam therapy in the fight against cancer.

Construction Activity

(Last Updated: 11/17/04)

The project achieved substantial completion October 1 and crews continue installing equipment. The construction trailers are now being moved offsite.

protontherapy_exterior.jpg

082604proton1.jpg

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  • 4 weeks later...

Smart and Lean Machine

by Mark Lam, AIA

PROJECT School of Nursing and Student Community Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston

CLIENT The University of Texas Health Science Center

ARCHITECT BNIM Architects with Lake/Flato Architects

CONTRACTOR Jacobs Vaughn, Inc.

CONSULTANTS Jaster Quintanilla & Associates (structural); Carter Burgess, Inc (MEP); Clanton Associates (lighting); BNIM Architects (interior design); Supersymmetry (energy); Epsilon Engineering (civil); Coleman & Associates (landscape); Apex Busby (cost consultant); Rolf Jensen & Associates (code); Philo & Wilke Architects (lab consultant); Pelton Marsh Kinsella (AV and acoustics); Worrell Design Group (food service); Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, Rocky Mountain Institute, and Elements (sustainable strategies)

design team (BNIM) Steve McDowell, FAIA, project designer; Kimberly Hickson, AIA, project manager; Chris Koon, AIA, project architect; and David Immenschuh: (Lake/Flato) David Lake, FAIA, project designer; Greg Papay, AIA, project architect

PHOTOGRAPHER Hester + Hardaway

nursing1.jpg

Each facade responds to its solar orientation, therefore the western facade features minimal glazing. Steel structures visible on the roof will be outfitted with photovoltaic array.

nursing2.jpg

Windows on the eastern facade are shaded with vertical canvas sails above the tree line, while windows below the tree line offer unobstructed views toward adjacent Grant Fay Park.

Four decades after the heyday of the hippie, the aesthetics of 1960s counterculture are emerging in the unlikeliest of places, including university campuses where today's additions to the built environment often reflect our society's "what you see is what you get" sensibilities. The new architecture is decidedly more relaxed and less contrived in comparison to earlier eras. After all, today's corporate CEO, college dean, and facilities director just may have been yesteryear's radical environmentalist, commune dweller, or free-spirit iconoclast. So maybe it should not come as a surprise that they might challenge prior notions of appropriateness by demanding projects designed with natural materials, exposed systems, and unambiguous expressions of function.

nursing3.jpg

Generous glazing brings sunlight deep into the building's core.

The recently completed University of Texas Health Science Center School of Nursing and Student Community Center firmly claims its place among the non-descript structures that comprise Houston's Texas Medical Center. With its fabric sunscreens and saw-toothed roof combining to form a curiously detailed silhouette, the new eight-story structure creates a conspicuously visual tension with the neighboring huddle of status quo.

nursing4.jpg

The central stair connects the "vertical campus," reinforcing the school's sense of community.

nursing7.jpg

Exterior stairs promote a healthy lifestyle by encouraging student use.

...continued...

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Its true. Most of the TMC buildings of the past were and are vastly bland. The newer ones, though, make some effort to stand out a bit. The new MD Andersen Ambulatory Center is nice, and conservative in design, but it does have some nice postmodern detailing to it. This sure beats the boxes that frequent most parts of the TMC. There are also a few other standouts in the TMC, and a few more are under construction (the A&M Building, etc).

Oh, and if anyone saw the news report on CH11 a few weeks back, they said that the portion of the TMC down to OST near Smithlands could be built out by 2020. They may have to expand towards the loop, they said...

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  • The title was changed to UTHealth School of Nursing
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  • The title was changed to UTHealth Cizik School Of Nursing At 6901 Bertner Ave.

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