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This is great for Rice and for the city. I'd like to see Rice become the size of its peers like Duke, Northwestern, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Wash U St Louis, etc... It'll still be quite a bit smaller but moving in the right direction.

 

Rice used to be concerned that enlarging the student body, especially undergraduate, would cause their profile to drop. The largest thing holding Rice back in attracting out of state kids was the image of Texas and the city. 

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Rice Media Center confirmed to be torn down by end of 2021, film and photography professors reflect on goodbyes, transitions and expectations

By Shiyu Miao     4/20/21 9:13pm

University administration has confirmed that the Rice Media Center will be torn down by the end of this calendar year after stating an uncertain timeline last September. Kevin Kirby, vice president for administration, said an architecture firm named Diller Scofidio + Renfro has been selected for the new building, and the design process will start in August of this year. The building will be ready to open in about three years.

“[Diller Scofidio + Renfro] were selected after a design competition,” Kirby said. “The lead architect is Charles Renfro, and he is a Rice grad. The design process takes roughly one year, and then [it] takes roughly two years to build, maybe a little bit faster.”

Kirby said Rice Media Center was built to be temporary and many problems now have occurred in the last 10 years. When the center’s demolition was first announced, Kirby revealed that the building had required $800,000 in maintenance and repairs in the last three years alone due to issues such as water leakage and faulty air conditioning. 

“It's a 50-year-old building that was meant to be a temporary building,” Kirby said. “It opened in 1970, and we've had many problems with the building over the last decade, [like] maintenance issues. It's just at the end of its useful life.”

In preparation for the demolition and construction of the new building, faculty and staff who previously occupied the media center have been relocated. Geoff Winningham, a professor of photography, said he planned to move his darkroom in August last year but the main move did not happen until January.

“The equipment from the main darkroom and the digital lab was moved out starting at the end of January,” Winningham said. “January and February [was] when we were actually moving the equipment so it was a big job, because there's a lot of equipment and lots of stuff to move at the media center. It took more than a month to get it all over.”

Winningham said the digital lab, which is used for digital photography, has been moved to the basement of Sewall Hall and the darkroom for film photography has been moved to the basement of Herzstein Hall. Winningham said the new darkroom will be half the size of the original one but he has high expectations for it.

“The university has spent a good bit of time and money making this temporary darkroom,” Winningham said. “And although it's smaller, it's going to be every bit as good as the darkroom we had before. And it's closer to the center of the campus. That would be easier for students so that they don't have to go all the way up to the media center. It will be operating by this summer. All the equipment is there, all the plumbing and electrical is installed, so it's almost ready to go.”

Winningham said a new VADA building will help connect the arts departments and enable them to learn from each other. In the past, the Rice Media Center has primarily been used by the photography and film departments, while other visual arts courses have historically been held in Sewall Hall. Winningham said he hopes to find more inspiration for his photography by being able to observe other visual artists in the printmaking studio, which will be within walking distance in the new VADA building.

“We'll all be working in the same place that the painters and sculptors and printmakers and the filmmakers are all working,” Winningham said. “They may be on a different floor. They may be way down the hall, but we'll all be in one place. So we'll all learn from each other.”

Brian Huberman, a professor of film, said he hopes to have a space in the new VADA building that allows an adequate level of noise for film editing, which requires constantly rewinding and rewatching films. After relocating his office to Sewall Hall, Huberman said he always wears headphones now so he will not invade everyone else’s space.

“Our film is noisy,” Huberman said. “Film editing is a nightmare for those around it, because you're constantly replaying stuff over and over to see how edits are working. And maybe your movie has bugles and trumpets in it like my current documentary does, and they're loud … For the future, I would hope that there is a recognition that the film people need something different. We need to be able to shout [and] make noise.”

Huberman also hopes that the new building will have a design that fosters communication between the faculty and students like the Rice Media Center.

“The great thing about the current media center design is that all the main elements of the program are really together,” Huberman said. “My office is where I work and have my editing setups, and it’s right there in the heart of [the center], so students that are there just have to walk a couple of steps, and I'm right there for them. And that way, you're not always limited by office hour connections or having to make an appointment like they do now. I would hope that the new building respects the design of the old in that sense.”

After relocating to Sewall Hall, Huberman is planning to teach FILM 444: Handmade Film next semester. He says it is a hard course to teach because of the space necessary and the equipment involved.

“We need a messy space,” Huberman said. “Because in addition to filming films, they also work on the film as a plastic medium, painting on it and gluing stuff to it and exploring the many different approaches to film. Maybe we'll just push out into the sculpture yard which now has these covered areas. Maybe we'll colonize some of those spaces and have the students do [the work]. Because in the days of the media center, when the weather was good, we would go outside then, and they would paint on the film.”

Huberman said there will be a few activities held around the media center before it is demolished, including a potential final screening of “Last Night at the Alamo,” a 1983 film co-directed by influential Texan independent filmmaker Eagle Pennell that Huberman worked on as a cinematographer. As the media center’s last days loom, Huberman is reflecting on his long Houston and Rice careers.

“I'm getting through a period of mourning,” Huberman said. “I've worked at the media center, I think, for 46 years. It's like my whole professional life has taken place in that building, so it's a kind of a life experience. I came to Texas from England in 1975 to take up the position, so the passing of the media center is the end of an era, certainly, for me.”

While full of nostalgia for the old media center, Huberman is equally excited about the new adventure the department will have in the future.

“We [should] remember to reinvest some of this energy into the next stage of the life of the film program that will now be very much embedded in the art department,” Huberman said. “It's a new adventure.” 

 

https://www.ricethresher.org/article/2021/04/rice-media-center-confirmed-to-be-torn-down-by-end-of-2021-film-and-photography-professors-reflect-on-goodbyes-transitions-and-expectations

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Abercrombye: Engineering Laboratory Building to be replaced by new engineering and science facility

 

 

Ryan Pai/Thresher

By Talha Arif     4/27/21 10:33pm

The Abercrombie Engineering Laboratory will be demolished and replaced by a new engineering and science building beginning this May. Demolition will start mid-May and construction of the new building will be substantially complete in January 2023, according to Associate Vice President for Facilities Engineering and Planning Kathy Jones.

According to Provost Reginald DesRoches, the new building will include research labs, classrooms and conference rooms, among other types of spaces. DesRoches said several departments in the school of engineering currently utilize the Abercrombie building, including chemical and biomolecular engineering and electrical and computer engineering.

“The faculty in those departments have been relocated to temporary space around campus until they can reoccupy the building in 2023,” DesRoches said.

The building will have a gross square footage of 250,000 with four floors and a basement, according to Jones. The final cost of the building, currently being referred to as the New Engineering and Science Building, is not yet determined.

DesRoches said discussions regarding replacing the Abercrombie building have been going on for several years and were not influenced by student expansion plans.

“This is an important investment in Rice’s science and engineering programs that will benefit our research and educational mission for years to come,” DesRoches said.

The announcement of the demolition follows a town hall involving expansion concerns for the mechanical engineering department. According to the current plans, the MECH department will not receive space in the new building, but other departments that move there will free up space that they previously occupied.

Michael Wong, chair of the chemical and biomolecular engineering department, said he is looking forward to the state-of-the-art space that the whole university can be proud to show off. 

“I am also looking forward to being next door to professors, staff and students from other departments, and to the random ‘water cooler’ discussions that lead to unexpected and crazy ideas at the heart of invention and innovation,” Wong said.

According to Wong, the Abercrombie building has been the home of his department for over 70 years.

“We did fantastic things in that building over the decades, with world-class research being done and one of the country’s best chemical engineering programs. It will be a happy and sad day when they lock the front door permanently,” Wong said.

Ashutosh Sabharwal, chair of the electrical and computer engineering department, said overall he is thrilled by the possibilities the building will enable for the school of engineering and the department.

“[It] will also be able to house future growth of the [electrical and computer engineering] department with larger, more modern spaces,” Sabharwal said.

Ben Zaltsman, an electrical engineering major, said he doubts the new building will have a significant impact on current electrical engineering undergraduates since usually only their labs were in Abercrombie.

“It will be nice for newer ELECs to have a better facility for doing their labs as [Abercrombie] was pretty run down and hadn’t been fully cleaned or organized in what I suspect to be years bordering on decades,” Zaltsman, a junior at Lovett College, said.

Access to the Abercrombie building will not be allowed after April 30. Karen Shelton, senior department administrator for the chemical and biomolecular engineering department, said they were able to give away about 80 percent of excess office items and miscellaneous items while emptying out the building to whoever came by last week.

Jerusha Kasch, director of institutional crisis management, said that Rice will continue to provide COVID-19 testing through the East Gym and Reckling Roost sites through the end of the semester after Abercrombie shuts down. According to Kasch, testing will not be impacted heavily, as the majority of tests occur at the East Gym site and the testing requirements for vaccinated community members have been updated.

https://www.ricethresher.org/article/2021/04/abercrombye-engineering-laboratory-building-to-be-replaced-by-new-engineering-and-science-facility

 

Rode by and found a construction fence, a moving truck and Pod boxes.

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22 hours ago, mkultra25 said:

It's already been announced that William McVey's sculpture "Energy", which graced the entrance to Abercrombie for the building's entire history, will be preserved and incorporated into the new building.

That was the first thing I thought of when I heard Abercrombie was being torn down.  So glad the art is being saved.

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9 minutes ago, CraftA365 said:

Wondering how loud this type of construction usually is?

My kid currently lives a few feet away at McMurtry. I know they build right near colleges all the time and the students survive. Just curious what to expect.

I once talked with a worker when they built the new Sid Richardson dorms high rise and she said Rice limits work hours. So I'm sure they will only let them work during business hours.

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12 minutes ago, hindesky said:

I once talked with a worker when they built the new Sid Richardson dorms high rise and she said Rice limits work hours. So I'm sure they will only let them work during business hours.

I figured as much. Not that there is a choice in the matter, but this sounds good. Rice always takes great care of the students :)

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Looks like from his announcement, there will be a number of important new buildings on campus in the very near future. 

 

"To support our research and academic endeavors, we will begin construction of a major new science and engineering building, a new home for visual and dramatic arts, and an expansion of our architecture facilities."

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6 minutes ago, bobruss said:

Looks like from his announcement, there will be a number of important new buildings on campus in the very near future. 

 

"To support our research and academic endeavors, we will begin construction of a major new science and engineering building, a new home for visual and dramatic arts, and an expansion of our architecture facilities."

Also a new Student Center is in the works.

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I think Lebron was a great president but not when it comes to architecture. Most of the buildings built under his watch are moo/uninspiring. The only traditional style building we got was the new opera hall, and even there, it seems like a lot was left on the table. The new engineering building is almost (though not completely) a throwback to the cold war. Hopefully, an administration change will bring about a new trend in campus architecture for the better.

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5 minutes ago, Valhalla said:

I think Lebron was a great president but not when it comes to architecture. Most of the buildings built under his watch are moo/uninspiring. The only traditional style building we got was the new opera hall, and even there, it seems like a lot was left on the table. The new engineering building is almost (though not completely) a throwback to the cold war. Hopefully, an administration change will bring about a new trend in campus architecture for the better.

Have you seen renderings of the engineering building? They don't seem to stray from their style.

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3 minutes ago, hindesky said:

Have you seen renderings of the engineering building? They don't seem to stray from their style.

I have. If that's viewed as part of the "campus style," then I guess therein lies the problem. For instance, how hard would it be to just replicate the building next too it, which is built in what the campus style should be, aka, byzantine revival and not brutalist revival. The new engineering building also completely breaks up the continuity of the facade/palisade wrapping around the quad. 

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  • The title was changed to Tunnels Under Rice University

Coolest find of the day on my ride was finding construction fencing around Hanszen College. Cherry Demolition was creating a heavy equipment driveway. Talked with a worker and he said they were going to demo it. I believe Hanszen is one of the oldest colleges in Rice. He also said Forney Construction got the bid to build the mass timber building. One wing will be 5 stories and the other 4.

https://www.forneyconstruction.com

https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2019/09/04/rice-university-plans-first-mass-timber-project.html

https://www.knippershelbig.com/en/projects/hanszen-residential-college

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Edited by hindesky
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23 minutes ago, hindesky said:

Coolest find of the day on my ride was finding construction fencing around Hanszen College. Cherry Demolition was creating a heavy equipment driveway. Talked with a worker and he said they were going to demo it. I believe Henszen is one of the oldest colleges in Rice.

Hanszen was one of the original colleges when the college system was implemented at Rice in 1957. The building being demoed is the "New Wing" of Hanszen, which was also built in 1957. There is also an "Old Wing", which was built in 1916 and was previously known as West Hall prior to the advent of the college system. 

Residents have long complained about the deterioration of the facilities in the New Wing, so this has been a long time coming. Still, it always makes me a little sad whenever another of the Rice Institute-era buildings that sprung up during the postwar building boom meets the wrecking ball.

Tangentially related: Harry Hanszen lived in a John Staub-designed mansion in River Oaks on Lazy Lane that subsequently became much better known as the longtime home of John Mecom, Jr., until it too met the wrecking ball in 2017:

Storied Texas Mansion Completely Demolished 

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36 minutes ago, mkultra25 said:

Hanszen was one of the original colleges when the college system was implemented at Rice in 1957. The building being demoed is the "New Wing" of Hanszen, which was also built in 1957. There is also an "Old Wing", which was built in 1916 and was previously known as West Hall prior to the advent of the college system. 

Residents have long complained about the deterioration of the facilities in the New Wing, so this has been a long time coming. Still, it always makes me a little sad whenever another of the Rice Institute-era buildings that sprung up during the postwar building boom meets the wrecking ball.

Tangentially related: Harry Hanszen lived in a John Staub-designed mansion in River Oaks on Lazy Lane that subsequently became much better known as the longtime home of John Mecom, Jr., until it too met the wrecking ball in 2017:

Storied Texas Mansion Completely Demolished 

Fun story but his brother also tore down a history mansion in river oaks. 

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7 hours ago, mkultra25 said:

Hanszen was one of the original colleges when the college system was implemented at Rice in 1957. The building being demoed is the "New Wing" of Hanszen, which was also built in 1957. There is also an "Old Wing", which was built in 1916 and was previously known as West Hall prior to the advent of the college system. 

Residents have long complained about the deterioration of the facilities in the New Wing, so this has been a long time coming. Still, it always makes me a little sad whenever another of the Rice Institute-era buildings that sprung up during the postwar building boom meets the wrecking ball.

Tangentially related: Harry Hanszen lived in a John Staub-designed mansion in River Oaks on Lazy Lane that subsequently became much better known as the longtime home of John Mecom, Jr., until it too met the wrecking ball in 2017:

Storied Texas Mansion Completely Demolished 

I won't miss new hanszen. It's just another fugly post-war building to bite the dust. It's amazing to me how we're tearing down building from 1957, but not 1916. The post-war era truly was a dark age for architecture. 

New, new hanszen isn't a gorgeous building but it's definitely easier to look at. The sallyport is a cool feature but I can't tell where it goes. It shows up in one of the renderings but not the 3d model. 

Someone please call me when they decide to tear down fondren.

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22 hours ago, jmitch94 said:

Fun story but his brother also tore down a history mansion in river oaks. 

Yep. Dogwoods, the former estate of Ima Hogg's brother. It's mentioned in the article I linked to.

The Arnold family may have a decent track record in philanthropy, but they're clearly unimpressed with John Staub's architecture.

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https://facilities.rice.edu/new-hanszen-college-wing

New Hanszen College Wing

Hanszen College was established in 1957. Its 244 beds are distributed in two college wings. The “old dorm” wing, which was built in the 1920s, accommodates 124 beds. The “new wing” was built in 1957 and accommodates 120 beds. The new wing is configured in an L-shaped plan with a partial basement, plus two residential stories and a five-story residential “tower” at the L’s knuckle. Most of the student rooms are four-person suites with a shared bathroom between pairs of suites. Each suite pair also shares an inaccessible exterior stair and entrance vestibule. The Hanszen magister house is located at the south end of one leg of the new wing in an area the students refer to as the “burbs” due to its remoteness relative to the majority of the college’s student rooms and the Hanszen Commons and Quadrangle. The Hanszen Quadrangle is framed by Hanszen's old wing and one leg of the new wing on its north and south sides, respectively, while Hanszen Commons, an early 2000s facility, creates the west side. Hanszen Quadrangle enjoys immediate proximity to the John and Anne Grove on its east side.

The institutional goals for the Hanszen College Replacement Wing Project include:

  1. A contemporary, accessible residential facility resulting in a total bed-count increase for Hanszen College
  2. A greater concentration of Hanszen residential units near the Hanszen Quadrangle and Commons
  3. A residential facility that utilizes campus land more efficiently than Hanszen’s 1957 wing
  4. The liberation of campus land, possibly for a new residential college in the future
  5. A project achieving LEED Silver status and other energy efficiency objectives yet to be specified

The new Hanszen College replacement wing will be approximately 50,000 gross square feet total, 4.5 stories, 164 beds in room configurations of singles and doubles, and two Residential Advisors Suites, each composed of living space, kitchen, two-bedrooms, and two bathrooms. The new wing will be built using cross-laminated timber (CLT), making it the first residential college to be built on a university campus in Texas. Demolition of the existing 1957 wing will begin in late May 2021.

Construction will continue through July 2022.

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Wow they really knocked it out of the ballpark with this. The facade is really pretty and the amount of common space is astounding considering that the current building has 0 common areas. This will be a badly-needed upgrade for hanszen, which is typically considered the college with the least amount of identity. 

After this gets built, Hanzsen and sid will have the nicest facilities. Lovett is officially at the bottom of the pile.

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On 6/16/2021 at 12:56 AM, Valhalla said:

Wow they really knocked it out of the ballpark with this. The facade is really pretty and the amount of common space is astounding considering that the current building has 0 common areas. This will be a badly-needed upgrade for hanszen, which is typically considered the college with the least amount of identity. 

After this gets built, Hanzsen and sid will have the nicest facilities. Lovett is officially at the bottom of the pile.

Hasn't Lovett always been at the bottom of the pile in all respects? Bwahahaha

Lovett is certainly the least attractive of the colleges, especially after old Wiess was demoed.

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6 hours ago, Ross said:

Hasn't Lovett always been at the bottom of the pile in all respects? Bwahahaha

Thus the intensity with which the old Lovett cheer "we are the best college, all the others suck/Edgar Odell Lovett..." was typically shouted. 

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Cherry is digging down a few feet at the Abercrombie science building. Was told this was getting 2 tower cranes. Anslow Bryant is on site and core drilling is being done. The Cherry supervisor guessed who I was and he said he uses HAIF frequently to get a heads up on future projects.

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Cherry is almost done taking down the old Hanszen college building.

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Future mock ups for Hanszen.

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Cool find of the day is that the Rice Media Center is going to be demolished soon. Construction fencing is going up. Didn't find any signs around but I assume Cherry will demolish the old building. Google searched for a rendering but haven't found one yet. But I did find out who the architecture firm will be, Diller Scofidio+Renfro. Looking at the site doesn't find the design but this firm has done some nice things. The Highline in NY is one.

https://dsrny.com

https://www.ricethresher.org/article/2021/04/rice-media-center-confirmed-to-be-torn-down-by-end-of-2021-film-and-photography-professors-reflect-on-goodbyes-transitions-and-expectations

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Not much left of the old Hanszen College.

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Little bit of dirt left at Abercrombie, crawler crane for pile driving on site. Most of the workers on site are now from Anslow Bryant.

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22 hours ago, hindesky said:

Cool find of the day is that the Rice Media Center is going to be demolished soon. Construction fencing is going up. Didn't find any signs around but I assume Cherry will demolish the old building. Google searched for a rendering but haven't found one yet. But I did find out who the architecture firm will be, Diller Scofidio+Renfro. Looking at the site doesn't find the design but this firm has done some nice things. The Highline in NY is one.

https://dsrny.com

https://www.ricethresher.org/article/2021/04/rice-media-center-confirmed-to-be-torn-down-by-end-of-2021-film-and-photography-professors-reflect-on-goodbyes-transitions-and-expectations

According to that article, design won't even start until next month (with construction completion still 3 years away), so I wouldn't expect renderings for some time.

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