Rice University Moody Center

Rice University Moody Center

Universities and Cultural Centres
Houston, Texas, USA - Build completed in 2017
Iwan Baan

Moody center for the arts Rice university

Michael Maltzan Architecture as Architects

The Moody Center for the Arts is a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to the advancement of transdisciplinary collaboration between the arts, sciences, and humanities. The facility houses a diverse collection of instructional, production, performance, and exhibition spaces—the value of their individual utility multiplied by their aggregation into a cohesive set of capabilities upon which students and faculty, as well as independent researchers, artists, and scientists, can draw upon. As a collaborative platform, the Moody Center extends and enhances existing campus resources in the service of project-based initiatives that seek to bring together practitioners from varied academic and professional disciplines.


At the heart of the Moody Center is a double-height space that anchors the building in plan and section. Imagined as a kind of interior quad, this flexible studio echoes the numerous quadrangles found across the Rice campus. Within the interior landscape of the Center the flexible studio functions similarly, bringing diverse programmatic functions into contact with one another and extending views out toward the campus. Arrayed around the flexible studio are galleries, a black box theater, shops, project studios, and classrooms. Featuring a high degree of visibility, the space is expected to serve as a platform for group collaborations, performance, and art exhibition. The transparency of the space affirms the Center’s artistic mission to foster connections between disciplines while leveraging the constant hum of activity to energize the core of the facility.


The interior of the Center as a whole is designed with intent of creating a sense of openness and possibility. Sightlines transect through spaces, creating layered views of the myriad activities playing across the building’s production, instructional and exhibition spaces. Simultaneously views extend along major corridors and out to the campus, enabling building users to easily orient themselves and facilitating direct access to studios, classrooms, and shops. Extensive interior glazing offers views into learning, production, and exhibition spaces with the intent of highlighting artistic process as a complement to the exhibition of finished works. Along the building’s north facade a set of wide stairs rise from the first floor and turn back toward the interior, creating an interior amphitheater that serves as an informal social space.


The emphasis on transparency extends to the building’s exterior, with the majority of the first floor along the principal elevations clad in floor-to-ceiling glass. Arcades created by the second floor’s cantilevered massing create shaded walkways, with the overall effect of the building’s brick-clad upper storey appearing to levitate. Large picture windows punctuate the articulated brick facade in a playful rhythm and bring light deep into interior spaces. Pedestrian paths cut across the site’s open lawn and into the building, simultaneously organizing key interior program areas and linking the new building to the broader campus. In doing so the design creates an iconic home in the spirit of the Moody Center’s forward-looking vision that is equally at home in Rice’s historic campus.


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