Texas Southern University, School of Public Affairs

Collegiate & Higher Education


Houston, Texas


82,000 sf

Project Features
  • 250-seat auditorium
  • 120-seat lecture halls
  • GIS and crime lab
  • Public policy simulation lab
After re-establishing its School of Public Affairs in 2002, Texas Southern University committed to funding a new home for this urban-focused community of learners. The new 82,000-sf facility contains instruction space including a 250-seat auditorium, several 120-seat lecture halls, general classroom space, a GIS lab, crime lab, and a public policy simulation lab. In addition to these instructional areas, the building houses the Barbara Jordan Public Policy Research Institute, the Mickey Leland Center on World Hunger and Peace, and administrative space for the School of Public Affairs and the College of Liberal Arts & Behavioral Sciences.

The building has been designed to fit within the campus and capture the personality of its program. Sited adjacent to the Jesse H. Jones School of Business and the Thurgood Marshall Law School, the School of Public Affairs frames an exterior space that has become the "professional quad" of the TSU Campus. The massing of the building is composed of two four-story elements divided by an elevator lobby allowing circulation from the front lobby to the quad. This separation will enhance a future axis to the further development of the campus to the south. The northern element near Cleburne Street was created as a tower-like form to address what is considered one of TSU's main entries. Its façade is highly articulated in response to the importance of this entry to the campus. The southern element appears to be lifted two floors above the ground by a colonnade, which represents the democratic ideals found in ancient Greek architecture. Behind the colonnade is a transparent wall of glass angled toward the campus to promote connectivity and a sense of community. Behind the wall of glass, a two-story lobby serves as a large foyer for several large instructional areas and as a function space for special school activities. A significant brick wall and an additional colonnade alluding to the “agora”—the birthplace of democracy—will anchor the interior of the lobby.

The Mickey Leland Center and the Barbara Jordan Institute gain special attention as separate stacked forms nodding to both the community at the exterior and to the students at the interior. The building is sheathed primarily in brick that will relate it to the school of business and, as an accent, limestone is used, lending itself to the other limestone elements on the campus.
Steve Durham, AIA, LEED AP 713 426 7521
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Spearheading collegiate projects, Steve's experience spans everything from dining halls and academic buildings to athletic facilities and religious institutions. Early in his 21-year career at Kirksey, Steve initiated the Outreach Committee which offers opportunities for staff members to volunteer their time for various local communities and non-profit organizations. He also leads the firm's membership in The 1%, a program connecting non-profits to architecture firms willing to provide pro bono services.

  • Houston Business Journal Landmark Award: Special Project, 2009