The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 College Campus Buildings

UHD 560.jpg
Photo by Telwink
The University of Houston Downtown campus
Every year hundreds of parents and prospective students tour Houston's many college campuses. Along with football team stats, the average class size and the cost of tuition, the campus ambience is always a big topic during those tours. We took a look at the various campuses, including the University of Houston, Rice University, Houston Baptist University and Houston Community College facilities, searching for must-see college buildings. Here's our list.

10. The University of Houston/Downtown
One Main Street

The UHD building is an impressive landmark. Built in 1930 as the Merchants & Manufacturers Building by Giesecke & Harris, an Austin-based firm, the 11-story structure was designed in the modernistic Perpendicular style. Taken over by the UH system in 1974, the building has been remodeled and updated periodically since then in an effort to accommodate the school's growing student population. The M&M building made our list strictly on its exterior and adaptation to its site (a parking lot on the south side was converted to a large terrace with a great view of downtown and access to Buffalo Bayou below). Inside, however, the building is pretty vanilla.

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Photo by Ed Uthman
9. The Administration Building, University of St. Thomas
3812 Montrose

The only former residence on our list is the opulent 1911 home built by J.W. Link, the Montrose-area developer. Now used as the administration building for the University of St. Thomas, the mansion is a stylistic anchor for the rest of the mostly nondescript campus.

McMurtry's Dormitory Dining Hall

8. Rice University's McMurtry's Dormitory Dining Hall
6100 Main

Two dormitories were added to Rice University in 2009. Each of the five-story buildings has its own dining hall. This is the McMurtry Dormitory dining hall. While we appreciate the building's energy-efficient design and the care with which the new construction was styled to echo existing structures, we can't help but feel a definite beehive vibe to this structure, which explains its rather low ranking on our list.

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The Ezekiel Cullen Building
7. The Ezekiel Cullen Building at the University of Houston
4800 Calhoun

Built in 1950, the Cullen Building's exterior is made of shell limestone facing. The tall central block is flanked by symmetrical wings, designed to fit into the University of Houston's 1937 master plan. While it might seem a little dated to some, we think its clean lines and weighty proportions are classic.

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My Voice Nation Help

Oh, I'd go way beyond that.  The Philip Johnson International Style architecture on the campus of St. Thomas is one of the city's hidden treasures, and was here way before his splashy skyscrapers.

And Rice doesn't have dormitories, they have residential colleges. ;-)   Much more like Gryffindor and Ravenclaw than Jester Hall!

Ken Roberts
Ken Roberts

Too bad the original Wiess College at Rice was leveled, because that would have been a clear winner. Most of the walls reached the ceiling! Well, some. Some of the walls went all the way to the ceiling.

Thomas Hanks
Thomas Hanks

University of St. Thomas - Houston #9 & #3!


While you might consider the architecture at St. Thomas whimsical or stark in contrast to the Link-Lee house, The chapel of St. Basil and the Philp Johnson architecture are not exactly deserving of the non-descript label.

That said, the Link house should be restored to it's grandeur and not an administrative building. It is a treasure.

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