Connection had to be made between the project site, and the challenging existing conditions in which it fit. The rapidly expanding UH downtown branding and architectyural features, along with established landscapes adjacent to the project meant the team focused on connecting to the areas character, while creating a unique space.
In collaborating with the University, HKA, and Smithgroup, engaging zones of activity, and a great sense of arrival were key design outcomes. The building sits at a juncture of the White Oak Bayou trail, Near Northside, and UHD campus, this the grand front entrance and large sloping landscape create a sense of arrival. Outdoor fitness areas inspire passing students to utilize this important campus facility.
The new University of Houston Downtown Wellness and Success Center, designed by SmithGroup and HarrisonKornberg Architects, provides a modern facility with a range of resources for promoting student health and well-being. It features fitness and recreation amenities, counseling and therapy services, a demonstration kitchen, and a student lounge to enhance campus life and support students’ overall well-being.
The landscape of the new center focuses on creating a sense of arrival for visitors. The building site posed unique design challenges fitting into the existing campus and working on land adjacent to the bayou. Mounds and accessible ramps were created to bring users from the UH campus and White Oak Bayou trail up to the Wellness center. Paths are lined with dense plantings of native grasses, flowers, and shade trees. Striking staircases frame the landscape of the entrance on both sides. Throughout the site and parking areas, swales, water-tolerant planting mixes, and dry beds address drainage issues.