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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.


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.”
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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