This competition entry for the Rice Student Center proposes a building that is central to the experience of every Rice student—the new heart of campus life.
The monumental brick arches on the north and west façades represent a contemporary take on the architectural language found across the Rice campus. Three entrance points—signified by the unique meeting of half arches—have been placed at the corners, allowing the building to be approached from many directions. As the lower façade turns to face the Central Quad, the brick is replaced by a pipe screen porch that continues the language of the arch in a new form. The screen shrouds the upper two stories of the building with a dynamic pattern that filters light inside.
The arch, a universal symbol of entry and connection, is especially appropriate for a student center seeking to reinforce Rice’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. The design of the Student Center reinforces that commitment, offering a surprising and welcoming experience as unique as the university’s student body. The interiors revolve around a dynamic daylit atrium that visually and spatially connects student services, lounges, and student-operated spaces in order to increase interaction among all three. Lounges and meeting spaces are distributed throughout the building to encourage use of the entire facility.
Located on the north side of an existing courtyard, a new Multicultural Center is characterized by a massive eyebrow arch that expresses the desire to bring students of all backgrounds together. Additional opportunities for gatherings and chance encounters are provided by shaded outdoor porches and terraces. Tucked away on the uppermost level, an outdoor student lounge dubbed the “Owl’s Nest” offers sweeping views of the campus from a sculptural round bench situated beneath an artful oculus.