15:28 PM

Did you know these things? Here's five fun facts about UHCL

Written by: Cynthia Anaya

As an almost 50-year-old campus, University of Houston-Clear Lake has had tens of thousands of students and employees walk through the halls and drive past all the natural green space. Some don’t think twice about what they see, whether it’s a building or a sculpture. Many people don’t know that the campus offers some hidden gems and little-known facts, and certain structural elements have changed dramatically over the years. Here are five of those fun facts about UH-Clear Lake:

The handprints on the “Spiritus Mundi” sculpture belong to the sculptor

Situated in front of the Bayou Building, the prominent bronze “Spiritus Mundi” (Spirit of the World) sculpture greets drivers and pedestrians as they approach the campus. This bulbous piece of art has existed for almost as long as the university, with a plaque in front that provides details about the history and sculptor, Pablo Serrano. What it doesn’t provide is info about the handprints and castings. They belong to none other than the late sculptor. Serrano also included a casting of his medicine bottle, which once contained his asthma medication.

Patio Café snack prices are cheaper than vending snacks

The many vending machines on campus offer the convenience of a quick snack without having to wait in line or pay a cashier. Another perk is that vending machines don’t have set hours of operation like the Patio Café. However, the Patio Café can one-up the campus vending machines in one substantial way: cost. After a recent price increase, many vending snacks now cost around $2. The Patio Café sells many of the same items sold in vending machines, but for less money. For example, a small bag of M&Ms from a campus vending machine costs $2, but at the Patio Café, it’s only $1.61.

Arbor was the first building constructed on campus

When UHCL first opened its doors in September 1974, all 1,096 students took their courses in the Arbor Building and only the Arbor Building. It was the first building constructed on the UHCL campus, followed by the Bayou Building in 1975. Administration and faculty offices were initially located at the Vanguard Building on Gemini Avenue, located about two miles from campus. Today, the Arbor houses education centers and teaching labs as well as paintings, ceramics, weaving, and photography studios.

The university has a time capsule

Time capsules are a fun way to give future generations a glimpse into the past. On July 4, 1976, a group of community members joined in on the fun when they buried one, called the Clear Lake Bicentennial Time Capsule, on the UHCL campus. An abstract sculpture with the inscription “Man Passes From the Scene But His Work Remains” marks the site of the capsule, located on the Horsepen Bayou Bridge. The contents include a United States flag that was carried aboard Apollo 7, a correspondence from President Gerald Fold, photographs, and many other items. The capsule will be dug up and opened on July 4, 2076, so a new generation can see what life was like a century in the past.

The original Delta Building was a solar-powered rec center

What is now the Delta Building was constructed in the spring of 1979, but it was originally called the Developmental Arts Building. It featured a dance studio as well as other health, leisure, and recreational activities. It also offered a theater program in a room called the Satellite Theater, but one of the most unique aspects of the building was its roof. As an operational test site selected by the Energy Research and Development Administration, the structure was built with 18,000 square feet of solar panels and monitored by NASA’s George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. But the panels never worked properly and were eventually removed. The building was later completely renovated and renamed the Delta Building. It reopened in 1995 as a state-of-the-art computing facility with classrooms, computer labs, and some faculty offices.

To learn more about UHCL’s history or campus dining options, visit the UHCL Archives and Dining webpage.