What You’ll Find In and Around UT’s New Houston Campus

UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, Houston

Some zoomy conceptual renderings of the University of Texas’s coming Houston campus, centered on the largely undeveloped intersection of Buffalo Spdwy. and Willowbend Blvd., made their debut at last month’s Board of Regents meeting, where the intended purchase of land for the project was announced. Buffalo Spdwy. gently winds through the drawings of the new campus to a track and several baseball diamonds along Holmes Rd. (which runs horizontally across the top of the image above).

Although the images are only “concepts”, the pictures do provide a sense of how the campus might unfold: For example, that linear water feature shown at the center of the campus aligns with an existing drainage ditch on the property, and the 3 long, low structures in the foreground are good candidates for parking garages, which will be needed regardless of the new institution’s yet-to-be-decided purpose.

Existing residential communities and industrial parks are here rendered as sparsely-treed fields — the boundary of the land slated for purchase by UT currently houses several apartment complexes on the north side and the Orkin Industrial Surplus facility to the south.

But another conceptual rendering (this one looking northwest across Holmes Rd. towards the distant Williams Tower) shows the campus in place amongst some of its eclectic neighbors:


UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, Houston

The industrial parks currently containing 1-800-RADIATOR HOUSTON, Merry X-Ray, and warehouser Chempak International are visible on the left side of the frame. To the west and north, the locale is surrounded by similar structures housing a smorgasboard of laboratory service companies and medical equipment suppliers.

The sports fields sketched along Holmes Road will be in good company: they are caddy-corner to the Wildcat Golf Club. The 36-hole course’s rolling hills measure up as some of the highest terrain in the county, and originate from the heaping trash piles buried beneath the fairways. For more topography, visit the towering dusty mounds stored at the Houston Crushed Concrete facility, just east past the open saltwater pits of the Texas Brine Company next door.  To the north, UT’s new campus is also just a (former) Astroworld away from the Sol Lynn/Industrial Transformers Superfund Site, which is still struggling to keep its PCB-laced groundwater to itself.

Set within the Pierce Junction oil field, which boomed in the 1950s and still pumps out a trickle of crude today,  the campus’s location will allow students and researchers an intimate peek into both Houston’s economic history and the modern industrial-medical-residential kaleidoscope. (The titular Junction, where the Houston Tap Railroad tied in to the BBB&C Line in 1856 and cemented the city’s trade importance, is located only a few blocks east down Holmes.)

Though UT has yet to assign a purpose to the campus, the new facilities will be in a primo spot to pass notes with the Texas Medical Center, U of H, Rice, and other well-read medical and research institutions. The Fannin South MetroRail stop is already an achievable 1-mile dash from the site, and the campus (labeled SITE in yellow below) will be well-positioned if those fickle plans for commuter rail along 90A ever take off.

UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, Houston

Images: Houston Public Media

Welcome to the neighborhood

20 Comment

  • Too bad UH has their knickers in a wad about this and seems to be intent on pointlessly long and frivolous legal action.

  • This project will never happen. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has ‘Campus Location’ rules they are chartered to enforce.

    These rules are designed to prevent duplicity in spending state funds to offer the same type of educational service within a common location.

    The THECB shut down A&M’s takeover of TSCL since it was too close to UH Law, just like they shut down UH’s plans for a “Compaq/HO” campus because it was too close the Prairie View.

    The rules are there for a reason and UT violated them out of the gate from not contacting the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

  • My understanding is that UT is only interested in opening up some kind of medical school there, so I don’t really understand what UH’s problem is. It’s a shame though really, UH could use someone putting a fire under their butts to start improving their academics. Instead they’ll just focus on their new coach and swimming pool.

  • The Roanoker is correct about the function of The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (fondly known by some as THE CB), although I suspect it worries more about duplication than about ‘duplicity’. MrErection is incorrect about UT wanting to start a medical school, since UT already has one in Houston (called the UT Medical School, Houston). There is no way in hades THE CB will approve another UT medical school here. UT’s plans are remarkably vague and consist entirely of generic drawings and the chancellor’s bloviating, and would be comical were it not for the massive PUF funding in the background.

  • I don’t. I stick with the more colloquial designation “Cougar High”.

  • UH suffers from a bad neighborhood. UT-Houston suffers from no neighborhood.

  • The Roanoker says “open the PUF Funds to UH” (now exclusive to UT and A&M) and he will happily help UT start moving dirt on their new Houston Campus.

    UH is currently working on plans for their own Medical School for 2019. THE CB does not think this is a good idea. This is how the game is played, which is another reason the UT Houston Campus will never happen.

    As an aside, when you compare the Research Funding that UH receives without a Medical School, it’s no wonder that both A&M and UT want in on some of the big city life. Houston is the place to be.

  • @Gisgo I know there is a UT medical school already but my understanding was that this would have been an expansion of that. I can’t remember where I read that though, and now that I am looking I am not seeing it. It was some comment about how it wasn’t going to be a traditional campus.

    Also lol at the idea of UH starting a medical school in Houston. They cringe at the idea of UT opening a competing branch in Houston and then turn around and want to go head to head with UT and Baylor in medicine? Houston medical schools are so far out of their league it isn’t even funny

  • @MrEction I don’t think Baylor Med has any association with Baylor of Waco.

    Also for the life of me I cannot figure out what UT is doing… I mean if its going to be a feeder (UT-Dallas, UT-San An, etc) why not just come out and say it? That struck me as incredibly odd. Also 300 acres is a ton of land for a campus…

  • Worth noting: one of the last set of proposed options for the 90A line goes directly alongside this site (https://www.ridemetro.org/Pages/90A-SWRailEvaluation.aspx). It actually shows up in the first rendering. But I’m looking at this plan and thinking the transit is in the wrong place — it should be in the middle, not along one edge. With a station on the edge, a large piece of the campus would be outside a 5 minute walk from light rail. And, regardless of the status of 90A (which is definitely not the best of the possible next rail lines in terms of ridership for the dollars spent) that right of way should be reserved.

  • Baylor College of Medicine is a private institution. UT Medical School is part of the UT System and funded by your tax dollars.

    The “knickers, lol and cringe” retorts can’t argue with the facts. UT Houston will never happen, and UH is floating the idea of it’s own Medical School as leverage to ensure it does not.

    It’s really the best use of all of you Texans’ tax dollars. UT was just hoping somebody was not paying attention and pull off a land grab.

  • It’s sad that UH is trying to stop a huge investment in our city just because they are afraid they can’t compete with UT. Though I guess I would be nervous too if I was in charge of the largest college in America’s 4th largest city but couldn’t rise above being ranked 187th on US News’ ranking of national universities. (But we’re a Tier 1 research university!).

  • JB is probably closest to the truth. UH has enough of a problem being taken seriously, especially with the recent stories about how much money they have transferred from academics to athletics, and how much they overpaid for their new, possibly haunted stadium. They want access to PUF, they have to indicate they won’t waste the money. The Board Of Regents approving Khator’s outrageous compensation also does not help.

    UT-Houston is not only possible, it is inevitable.

  • Accessing the PUF would give the legislature a reason to clean house at UH, which I believe everyone except the faculty and administration at UH is alright with.

    UH has a seemingly legit claim that UT-Houston shouldn’t be allowed, but there are those who say that UT-Houston cannot be stopped. Mitigating this with PUC access could be the compromise.

    So if the end result is not only a vastly improved UH but also the existence of a UT Houston, then that end result sounds like a good end result, and it would seem the pieces are falling into place.

  • MrEction, my understanding is that UH is trying to open their OWN medical school. Hence, more of a conflict with UT opening a branch in Houston.

  • I find it incredibly difficult to believe that an area with a population of 6+ million people can’t *possibly* support another school of any kind, let alone two medical schools. You can make all the arguments about the PUF you want, but this is a pissing contest and a waste of everyone’s time.

  • looks like UT decided not to consult with Roanoker and went ahead and closed on the first 100 acres.

  • I know a few previous commenters mentioned it, but just in case you missed it…. UT ALREADY HAS A MED SCHOOL IN HOUSTON. It’s the biggest med school in the UT system – we admit 240 students/year. The main building is just south of Memorial Hermann at 6431 Fannin Street. It just got a huge philanthropic donation, and so now it is named “McGovern Medical School” (at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston).

    FYI and all that….

  • This piece of land was a great place to drink beer and set bonfires in high school. I’ll be sad to see it finally get developed.