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WHR Architects Celebrates Opening of Two University Projects: The University of Texas School of Dentistry and Sam Houston State University The Woodlands Center

Houston, Texas (PRWEB) July 13, 2012

Design teams were busy in the Education and the Arts and the Education and Science Studios at WHR Architects as they completed final details in advance of recent ribbon cuttings at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houstons School of Dentistry School and Sam Houston State Universitys The Woodlands Center.

The six-story, 300,000 square foot UTHealth School of Dentistry, located on the South Campus of the Texas Medical Center, provides the school with increased capacity and advanced technology, including state-of-the-art simulation labs and operatories, to meet the needs of innovative, evidence-based curricula and advanced teaching methods.

With the opening of the four-story, 145,000 square foot Woodlands Center, located on the Lone Star College campus in The Woodlands, Sam Houston State University (SHSU) has a versatile classroom facility that will help the school meet the growing demand for a diverse mix of graduate and undergraduate programs from students in the surrounding community.

WHR has a sustained commitment to higher education, especially here in our home state, said David Watkins FAIA, WHR Chairman. The opportunity to work with our long-time clients at both Sam Houston and the University of Texas Health Science Center on pivotal projects in their development, helping them to continue deliver best-of-class programs, keeps our studios engaged in the most important issues in education.

Achieving excellence in education, patient care and research were the major goals for the UTHealth School of Dentistry. Providing room to grow was just part of the project, explains Mary Le Johnson AIA, ASID, LEED AP, director of the Studio for Education and Science and project architect for the facility. We expanded the entire program to accommodate new technologies, improved operational efficiencies, created patient-focused clinics and public spaces and designed the research spaces around an open concept to allow for greater flexibility. The facility provides an advanced platform for new curricula, training and an expanded research capability.

The six-story School of Dentistry is part of the UT Health Science Center Research Park complex, home to major programs in neurosciences, behavioral and biomedical sciences, and dental research and education. The complex has been designed to encourage the various disciplines to come together for increased interaction and optimal sharing of information and knowledge. The first building in the complex, the 168,000 square-foot Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building, was completed in 2010. Also on the campus, adjacent to the School of the Dentistry, is UTHealths first conference center, The Denton A. Cooley, M.D. and Ralph C. Cooley, D.D.S. University Life Center. The Cooley Center, a 14,000-square-foot conference center, provides classroom and conference space for UTHealth schools and activities. All of the buildings were designed by WHR Architects on the 7.5-acre site that they had master planned.

The new classroom building on Sam Houston State Universitys campus in The Woodlands is the first true home the school has had in the 15-year evolution of its satellite program. Having worked on a number of buildings on the main SHSU campus in Huntsville over the years, the design team understood the need to create a clear sense of the universitys identity in the new facility, said Marie Hoke, AIA, the director of the Studio for Education and the Arts and project architect on the new building. At the same time we needed to design a building that would be harmonious with the existing Lone Star College campus and its woodland setting. By bringing images of the Huntsville campus and original artwork to the light-filled, friendly, flexible space in the new facility we were able to communicate the commitment to quality education that is a hallmark of SHSU.

In addition to the technologically advanced classrooms the new facility includes conference rooms, computer labs, an auditorium and an event space. The siting of the building takes full advantage of the natural water features and woodland setting and uses landscape and pathways to reinforce a sense of campus. The Woodlands campus provides educational opportunities to a large number of non-traditional students and first-time students who can now take pursue a four-year degree closer to home as the center offers 15 undergraduate programs 15 graduate programs and three special programs with plans for more.

WHR Architects recent and current academic projects include: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, Texas; The University of North Texas Concert Hall in Denton, Texas; The Center of Urban & Structural Entomology at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas; The University of St. Thomas Center for Science and Health Professions in Houston, Texas; The University of Houston, University Center Transformation in Houston, Texas; The University of Houston, Stadium Parking Garage in Houston, Texas; and The Wharton County Junior College Health Occupations Center Addition and Renovation, Wharton, Texas.

WHR Architects is a full service architecture, interior design and technology planning firm. The firms commitment to critical thinking is balanced by an ingrained empathy that results in both improved project outcomes and positive working experiences for their clients. With over 100 people in Houston and Dallas, Texas, Washington DC and New Jersey, the 33-year-old firm is working on projects throughout the US for toptier public and private education and medical institutions. WHR was named the 2008 AIA Houston Firm of the Year and 2010 IIDA Texas/Oklahoma Pinnacle Firm of the Year.

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