University of Houston Cougar Woods Dining Hall

Houston, TX

Project Description

Cougar Woods Dining Hall plays a pivotal role in the University of Houston’s vision for the ongoing redevelopment of its main campus, which calls for a dramatic increase in on-campus living. With seating for 600 people, the 25,000-square-foot glass pavilion serves as a hub for adjacent student housing and an entry marker to the central portion of campus for students arriving from perimeter housing and surrounding neighborhoods. The LEED Silver certified building is the first on the UH campus to achieve sustainability certification at any level.

Simple materials (glass, metal, brick, and cast stone) on the dining hall’s exterior recall the fabric of older campus buildings. Yet, Cougar Woods reinterprets the traditional palette with distinctive patterning and unique implementation, resulting in a composition that visually corresponds to the surrounding campus while still showcasing its singular characteristics. The shed roof opens up the dining areas to views of the campus and suffuses the interior space with natural light, as well as creating an exuberant architectural expression. Its north face allows for extensive transparency while a solid masonry volume on the south, containing many of the building’s service functions, offers protection from the sun. The kitchen block runs perpendicular to these forms and extends through the dining area to create the front entry for the building.