Photo by Bobette Riner
Holes 18 feet deep for support

UH Architecture Students Give T.H. Rogers Students Some Relief From the Heat

A school courtyard in Houston can very well be the last place you'd want to spend time, given the heat that can dominate most of the academic year.

But what if you're a 12-year-old forced to wear a suit, while playing a cello, no less? Or in a wheelchair, just waiting for the next class to begin?

Thanks to architecture students at University of Houston -- and a number of sponsors from the business community -- students at T.H. Rogers have a little relief from the sun.

And no, they didn't pass out handmade fans with all the sponsors' logos on them. Instead, THR kids have respite in the form of "cloud cover:" a covered amphitheater.

Students of Patrick Peters, director of the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at UH, spent the entire summer designing and overseeing construction of the structure, which took 632 cases of Gatorade -- and some steel 'n' concrete 'n' stuff -- to erect.

Peters himself was there every day of the three-month project, even during 105-degree heat.

Peters said his students undertake one design project per year, always to benefit a non-profit organization. For this particular project, around 15 businesses contributed time, talent and/or resources for the structure.

"It'll be here for a long time," THR Principal David J. Muzyka told the student architects during Friday's dedication ceremony, "because I saw the holes you guys dug."

The structure could very well survive a Cat 5 hurricane, and outlive the campus itself, as each of the holes were 18 feet deep.

Then again, Rogers, a National Blue Ribbon School (and Best of Houston winner), has never been singled out for its stellar campus. While other schools surrounding it in Tanglewood, one of Houston's priciest neighborhoods, have pushed for fancy new structures if not out-and-out makeovers, Rogers quietly churns out stellar students -- and on its original, 48-year-old campus -- shocking!

In addition to its gifted-and-talented population, the K-9 school serves deaf students and, up through age 18, multiply-impaired children.

In case you're wondering, the new amphitheater is not related to a design icon in Australia, but it could be a younger, albeit tinier cousin.

"It rivals the Sydney Opera House," said John Grounds, co-president of THR's PTO. He acknowledged the "gallons of (the student architects') sweat underneath where I'm standing."

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