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The opera hall looks really nice, even better than I expected.  Despite what the naysayers said, they did a great job with this and it fits in perfectly with the architecture of the rest of the campus.  Of course, it will look even better once the trees grow up in a few decades.

 

For those not familiar with the music school, only the first two photos in @hindesky's last post are from the new opera hall.  The remainder show older parts of the music school, where the third is the existing Stude Concert Hall (and its lobby after that) and the last is the existing, much smaller, Duncan Recital Hall.

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I don't like this thing *because* I like historic buildings. What I don't like is brand new buildings trying to ape historic styles. I do think this building does a good job with its proportions, which is something most new attempts at "elegant and classic" styles get wrong. But, compared to the buildings this is trying to look like, the details and finishes look cheap. Because they are! We don't hand paint plaster details anymore! We don't really do *anything* with plaster anymore! They slightly abstracted and simplified a lot of the forms, but (to me) the result is an awkward comprise between modern forms and historic decoration.

 

What's with the weirdly abstracted quasi-Doric columns? Why are the color choices so bland? Why not put effort into elements people will directly interact with, like the handrails? 

 

We don't build buildings the same way we used to. We don't use the same building materials or techniques. We don't even always have the same goals for the performance of the building. This is a modern building play-acting as historic, and I just think it would work better if it acknowledged that. Keep the proportions (which generally work) but acknowledge that you're using modern materials and lean into their advantages, rather than forcing them to ape plaster, hand-milled old-growth lumber, and other traditional materials.

 

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I can set aside the validity of historicist architecture on modern buildings if it looks right. I'm not so sure that the proportions of the overall massing are working for the Music Hall, though. I've always thought that the big blocky mass plopped on top looked a little truncated... like they forgot to design a pitched roof for it. Without that big volume dropped on top, the proportions of the rest of the building (windows, arches etc.) seem pleasant enough if not really a match for an actual historic building.

 

That interior, though... It's veering into Disney World or maybe even Tillman Fertitta territory in that it's getting a little cartoony. Has anyone been to 'Be Our Guest' restaurant in the Magic Kingdom? (Don't eat there; the food is terrible!) It reminds me of that somehow (the entry hall, and the main theater looking back towards the seating in particular)...

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Edited by J.A.
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I think the criticism by Texasota is certainly valid for this pastiche building. Compare this Opera Hall to Dickies Arena.  The rice project looks like an imitation, it looks like it is trying to be something older than it is.  Compare that to what David Schwarz did at Dickies arena and you can tell the difference between imitation and authenticity.

 

https://www.dmsas.com/project/dickies-arena/

 

The quality of construction and the high level of design is something to behold.  I am frequently the person doing the cost cutting on these major projects and know a few of the architects from Dickies.  Every place that I would cut cost, they went the other direction.  

 

Checkout this group of photos from Beaubois (the millwork contractor):

http://www.beaubois.com/projects/dickies-arena/

 

 

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Seems to me that there once again, are way too many purists who just can't resist their lower impulses and must criticize a valiant attempt to recreate the past while adding in modern comforts and sensitivities.  And, because the architect or developer or whomever was 100% successful at satisfying both arguments, but only part of each, then they are now the enemy of design.

 

Well, as I said to a friend of mine that went to Rice and also loves the new buildings AND their designs with homage to the past.  It's gorgeous and it takes a pretty small minded individual not to admit that in this context and in this forum.  Sorry, but the truth speaks louder than just sitting back and always letting these little petty posters get away with unfounded criticism time and time again, when THEY aren't the ones putting up the 10's of millions of dollars to improve something so well and make an ugly situation or blank slate a bit more and more beautiful that  before.

 

So, here's to the latest beautiful masterpiece of Rice University architecture and I hope others will come to realize in the years to come.  Well done.

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Oh no! Somebody doesn't like something you like! They must be small-minded and petty! 

 

My criticisms are considered and specific. You don't have to agree with them, but accusing me of being "small-minded and petty" is ridiculous. 

 

Again, this is an architecture forum. Criticism is part of the point!

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Houston philanthropist Fayez Sarofim leads funding for new Rice arts facility

A new arts facility at Rice University has just received a major boost, thanks to one of Houston’s most generous philanthropists. Local businessman and benefactor, Fayez Sarofim, has made a lead gift to create a 50,000-square-foot facility located next door to the Moody Center for the Arts.

The $25 million building will be named in honor of Sarofim and will seek to amplify the arts on campus and in the community. Financing will come from a combination of university funds and philanthropic donations, including the lead gift from Sarofim, according to a press release.

“Fayez Sarofim has once more made a tremendous difference for the arts in Houston, and we are incredibly indebted and proud to be able to recognize his support with a building named in his honor,” Rice University president, David Leebron, said in a statement.

The building, once completed, will cement the southwest corner of campus as an arts district that will serve as a resource for Rice students and faculty, as well as the larger Houston community. Nearby facilities include the Moody Center for the Arts, the Shepherd School of Music’s Alice Pratt Brown Hall, and the newly built Brockman Music and Performing Arts Center.

The facility will also support increasing enrollment in the Visual and Dramatic Arts (VADA) department and provide new opportunities for collaboration across disciplines, per a release. VADA serves 900 students a year, roughly a quarter of the school’s undergraduate population. Demand for more classes through VADA continues to grow in a variety of majors, including engineering, computer science, and architecture, according to the school.
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Rice University plans to build a new student center, which will largely replace the current Rice Memorial Center. 

International architecture firm Adjaye Associates will lead the project's design, according to an Oct. 30 press release. The firm has offices in Ghana, London and New York.

Houston-based Kendall/Heaton Associates will serve as executive architect, and Houston-based Tellepsen will provide preconstruction services. Currently, Rice aims to break ground on the project in the first quarter of 2022 and complete it in the fall of 2023. 

The project is moving forward thanks to a $15 million gift from the Brown Foundation, said Kathi Dantley Warren, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. 

Rice plans to retain a few elements of the Rice Memorial Center, such as the chapel and the cloisters, but most of the RMC will be demolished. Adjaye Associates has designed a three-story, 80,000-square-foot structure that incorporates the functions of the RMC and adds a multicultural center and a rooftop auditorium. It will also incorporate a memorial to 10 Navy ROTC students who died when their transport plane crashed in 1953 and for whom the RMC is named. However, the design is very preliminary, said University Architect George Ristow.

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Rice hosted a design competition to select the architect, which it normally does not do for a major capital project, Ristow said. The board of trustees’ Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee for Design narrowed down a list of candidates to three finalists to present concepts for the new facility, and a committee of Rice administrators and faculty, with input from the Rice Student Association and Graduate Student Association, selected Adjaye Associates.

“We could not be more delighted than to have a design architect of the standing of Sir David Adjaye and Adjaye Associates for Rice’s new student center,” said Rice President David Leebron. “Building on the insights of Rice graduates at his firm, Sir David’s competition submission reflected a deep understanding of the needs of our student community, including the need to support diversity and inclusion through a vibrant and prominent multicultural center that is a central element of this project. Sir David’s global perspective will, we are confident, result in a project that speaks not only to our community but to the broader world that increasingly sees Rice as a destination for global engagement and problem-solving."

 

Adjaye, founder and principal of the firm, was recently named the 2021 recipient of the Royal Gold Medal, an award selected by Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He is the second winner to design a building for Rice; the first was James Stirling, who designed Anderson Hall. Adjaye Associates also designed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.; Ruby City, an art center in San Antonio; the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, Russia; and the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, Norway.
“This is an important and inspiring project for Adjaye Associates, and we look forward to collaborating with Rice to imagine a new campus anchor point that engages its community in the most inclusive way possible," Adjaye said. “Responding to the architectural history of the university, the city of Houston and the region, the student center will come to embody its position at the heart of the campus, fostering catalytic connections between undergraduates, graduates, faculty and staff activated in both the threshold and formalized spaces of the new building.”
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By Olivia Pulsinelli  – Assistant managing editor, Houston Business Journal 
6 hours ago
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that is some harsh interior design for a residential project.... I can understand minimalism and exposed structure in public facing spaces but to do polished concrete floors with exposed ceilings in the residential area is pretty bleak.  White walls and white base make it look cold and borderline prison vibes (compare to UTHealth Continuum Of Care Campus For Behavioral Health).

And that bathroom... WTF  they couldnt afford to tile the floor?  I guess they spent all their money on the brick facade and ran out when it came to actual positive features for the building occupants.

Another great Rice project with Form >>>>> Function.

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As college costs have escalated to stratospheric levels, so have students' expectations of housing and dining amenities. The current Rice serveries full of chefs whipping up a wide variety of very good food are far removed from the cafeteria ladies who dished out countless portions of cheese eggs and mystery meat back in the 1980s. That said, given the age and condition of Old Sid, I doubt many Sidizens are going to be complaining about the spartan nature of New Sid. Also, there used to be a tradition of often-elaborate buildouts to further enhance residential rooms (particularly among engineering students). Assuming this is still the case, I have no doubt that the folks with such inclinations will regard the rooms at New Sid as merely a blank canvas rife with possibilities.

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Moody Center for the Arts has a new outside art installation.

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https://moody.rice.edu/exhibitions/artists-and-rothko-chapel-50-years-inspiration

Artists and the Rothko Chapel: 50 Years of Inspiration 

February 23 - May 15, 2021

In the spring of 2021, the Moody Center for the Arts will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Rothko Chapel by presenting a unique group exhibition.

Artists and the Rothko Chapel: 50 Years of Inspiration will highlight the extraordinary impact the Rothko Chapel has had on both artists and the public since opening in 1971. Organized in two sections, the first part will restage the 1975 exhibition Marden, Novros, Rothko: Painting in the Age of Actuality organized at Rice University by Harris Rosenstein and supported by Dominique de Menil. This presentation will be the first time the works by Brice Marden and David Novros will be reunited since 1975, recreating the immersive experience that viewers had upon first seeing them installed at Rice. The second section looks to the future, highlighting works by contemporary artists of diverse ages, nationalities and backgrounds - Sam Gilliam, Sheila Hicks, Shirazeh Houshiary, and Byron Kim- as a means of exploring the wide-reaching influence of the non-denominational Chapel, and how its legacy has manifested through various media and aesthetics.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue, which will include new installation images, interviews and contributions by the artists featured in the exhibition, as well as testimonies by local figures, reflecting on the Rothko Chapel and the arts at Rice. The catalogue is distributed by Yale University Press and will be available in March 2021. 

The Moody Center for the Arts will organize a series of interdisciplinary programs around the exhibition, which will take place in tandem with the Rothko Chapel’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in the spring of 2021.

This exhibition is curated by Frauke V. Josenhans, Associate Curator, Moody Center for the Arts.

The exhibition is made possible through the Moody Center for the Arts Founders Circle, the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Elizabeth Lee Moody Excellence Fund for the Arts with additional support from the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation.

The catalogue is supported by the Rice University Art Gallery Catalogue Endowment, Gagosian, and the Dedalus Foundation.

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Rice University awarded grant for 'mass timber' building on campus

 

Rice University has won a federal grant to help advance its plans to develop a building using "mass timber," a type of engineered wood touted as being more environmentally friendly than concrete or other materials.

The $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service is portion of $1 million in funds designated to support the construction of mass timber projects on college campuses across the country.

 

Mass timber refers to the use of engineered wood products as the structural components in a building. Small pieces of wood are laminated and compressed to create large, solid panels that can serve as load-bearing beams, panels and posts.

"A thriving mass timber market helps maintain forest health and resiliency, supports employment opportunities in rural communities and advances sustainability of the built environment," according to a Department of Agriculture announcement. The program is a partnership with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.

Recent advances in engineering have made mass timber a more viable method of constructing taller buildings. In January, the International Building Code, on which many city building codes are based, doubled the allowed height of a wooden building to 18 stories.

 

Houston-based Hines has been on the forefront of the movement. It has a line of wooden office buildings called T3, short for timber, transit and technology.

Rice's proposal is for a five-story, 50,000-square-foot student housing building on its campus.

Mass timber buildings can replace concrete construction, which generates carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, during manufacturing, according to an announcement from Rice, which has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2038. Rice's architecture school also provides instruction on mass timber.

"This parallels our architectural research, so that's one of the rationales for us wanting to build with timber," Mark Ditman, Rice's associate vice president for housing and dining, said in the announcement. "We're teaching this, so we should be willing to do it."

The federal grants have been awarded to schools planning a variety of building projects, including a basketball arena, an arts and education complex with a recital hall and theater, a museum and classroom buildings.

The Forest Service received 16 proposals. The 10 selected are at universities in Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Texas schools San Jacinto College and Stephen F. Austin University also received funds.

The new building at Rice would replace the existing 120-bed wing of Hanszen College. Construction is pending approval by Rice's Board of Trustees and its Buildings and Grounds subcommittee. Rice Architecture professors Jesús Vassallo and Albert Pope, whose model of a timber skyscraper for Detroit was accepted to the 15th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2016, are providing expertise for the project.

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Rice announces major expansion of student body and campus

Brittany Britto, Staff writer

March 29, 2021Updated: March 29, 2021 7:47 p.m.

Rice University plans to increase its student body to 9,000 and to expand the campus footprint as well, officials said Monday.

The private Houston university’s board of trustees approved a plan that will scale up the number of students annually over five years, and by fall 2025 increase the full-time teaching faculty by nearly 50.

The number of undergraduate students will rise by 20 percent, to 4,800 by fall 2025, according to a release. And the number of graduate students is also expected to grow, which will bring total enrollment to around 9,000 students.

Officials predict that the expansion and higher enrollment will help the university create a more diverse campus, recruit more talented faculty for teaching and research, and will create a larger alumni network across the world.

“The overall strategic plan is to increase both the opportunities Rice provides and the impact that it has on the world — nationally, in our state and locally,” Rice President David Leebron said, but he added that officials have taken into consideration how large the small private university should be.

“Rice does have a distinctive sense of community and culture,” he said Monday, “and when we plan this, we’re very careful about how to plan and still preserve Rice’s sense of community, student experience and the Rice culture — the trilogy.”

The physical expansion on the college’s 300 acres, will include a 12th residential college, a new engineering building, a building for the visual and dramatic arts, and a new student center that will largely replace the Rice Memorial Center. All of the projects will be an investment of around $300 million, Leebron said.

The three-story, 80,000-square-foot student center will be designed by the international architectural firm Adjaye Associates, the same firm that designed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The university chose the firm after a competition, during which they narrowed it down to three firms and chose Adjaye Associates for its bold, creative design, Leebron said.

The center will include a multicultural center and a variety of gathering and event spaces. The university plans to break ground on the center in the first quarter of next year.

Rice’s projected growth follows two decades of expansion at the college and a surge in applications. Applications for admissions increased by about 75 percent over the last four years, with a particular spike following the university’s launch of the Rice Investment in 2018. The financial aid program offers a range of assistance to undergraduates with family incomes up to $200,000.

Applications for the Fall 2021 semester alone totaled 29,519, which a university spokesman noted, is a 26 percent increase from last year.

Enrollment at Rice has increased by 80 percent over the past 20 years and undergraduate enrollment, by 35 percent between 2005 and 2013.

Leebron said the university did its first strategic expansion under his presidency between 2006 and 2010, which has helped the school receive more applications from international and national students and increase enrollment and visibility of the institution.

“We also dramatically increased diversity on our campus, and we were able to extend the benefits of a Rice education to many more students. As before, we must undertake this expansion carefully in order to assure that we retain the best aspects of Rice culture, student experience and sense of community,” Leebron said.

Describing the initial expansion under his presidency as successful, Leebron said the college began having conversations about expanding again about two years ago.

And as with other expansions, the university has carefully considered how large the small private university should be, Leebron said.

The university also announced its first undergraduate major in business, which will be offered this fall, and will grow its online presence, starting with two online-only master’s degrees and additional programs coming within the next two years.

brittany.britto@chron.com

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/education/article/Rice-announces-expansion-of-student-body-campus-16061366.php

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  • The title was changed to Tunnels Under Rice University

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