University of Houston (UH) President Renu Khator first began planning for a new medical school in 2014, with the aim of addressing healthcare deficiencies in the Houston area. The school welcomed its first class in Fall 2020, making it the first new medical
school to open in Houston in the last 50 years. After two years housed in a temporary building, the medical school finally has a home—the newly completed home of the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine!
To support student learning, the 130,000 SF Fertitta Family College of Medicine houses a state-of-the-art anatomy suite, clinical skills lab, patient examination rooms, a simulation center, large classrooms for team-based learning, meeting rooms, and administrative offices.
The building’s lobby features an art wall made up of 3,784 LED lights, which can cycle through hundreds of unique patterns. The building’s exterior façade is composed of a combination of basalt stone and limestone masonry, curtainwall,
spandrel, and vision glass systems. It features a clearstory at the top level and a glass window reminiscent of Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” at the entrance. The project also includes a central utility plant with water-cooled chillers
to serve the College of Medicine and future buildings on the new campus.
UH chose to trust the College of Medicine project to Vaughn Construction in 2020. “I think their decision was based on Vaughn’s record of success, along with having confidence in knowing that we had the capability to finish on schedule and to provide the quality product that they were expecting,” one
Vaughn project manager shared. Our team successfully completed the project in July 2022, but getting there wasn’t always easy.
The building is located on 43 acres of wooded land, and our team was surprised to learn this land was home to a pair of bald eagles. Bald eagles have a protected status, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has specific guidelines for completing construction
near bald eagle nests. Workers at the project site underwent specific training on these guidelines, and our team erected an exclusion fence at a 330-foot radius around the eagles’ nest. We also monitored the noise and light levels emanating
from the project site to avoid disrupting the eagles. Our conservation efforts paid off when the eagles migrated back to their nest to hatch two baby eaglets, who thrived amid the adjacent construction!
The College of Medicine building is only the first of several planned facilities in UH’s new medical district, and UH knew the success of all future projects hinged directly on this one. “We had to make sure what we were doing was in line with a master plan for UH’s new medical district,” another
Vaughn project manager explained. “Throughout pre-construction, we worked diligently with the design team to plan for UH’s continued campus growth and made accommodations for future buildings.” Our team was able to deliver
the forward compatibility UH desired. The central utilities plant, for example, has the capacity to expand and support all the future buildings within the medical district.
The College of Medicine is already helping improve health in underserved communities in Houston and across Texas, and we are proud to have a hand in raising new generations of medical professionals who will help heal the sick and meet the needs of our