Ley Student Center Expansion, Rice University+ expand detail
Houston, Texas, USA
75,000 square feet / 7,000 square meters
The Ley Student Center was built in 1958 to serve fewer than 2,000 students. With enrollment at Rice more than doubling since then, there was a demand for larger facilities for student services. The expansion fulfilled several crucial campus needs, including the centralization of all student services. The Expansion increased the size of the original 4,645-square-meters (50,000-square-foot) building to 6,970 square meters (75,000 square feet). A bookstore and a cafeteria were added as well as two private dining rooms, a large lounge, five smaller lounges, a multi-purpose room and offices for student groups.
Referring to existing buildings and the campus plan of 1910 by Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson, the exterior of the addition is salmon-colored brick detailed with limestone, glazed brick and tile, with a gabled roof of Spanish tile and copper. Its massing consists of long parallel blocks, typical of early Rice buildings. The new multi-purpose room is an octagonal form and used as a gathering place.
The design continues the system of expression and ornamentation begun at Herring Hall, the first building designed by Cesar Pelli & Associates at Rice University. Glazed brick, limestone and glazed tile provide rhythms of material change. Ornament is used on the surface of the skin to express construction and program. As with Herring Hall, entrance treatments are layered by cutting and folding the brick skin. This method refers to the layered, carved stone portals of earlier Rice buildings while remaining consistent to modern thin-wall construction.
To create a new image for the entire complex, the Center’s main entrance was moved from the north side of the building to the west side of the addition where most users arrive. The entrance serves as the focal point of the expansion. A porte-cochère affords covered automobile drop off, and the new entrance accesses a new main corridor that acts as a unifying element, linking the old and new wings of the building. The corridor opens on to all the main spaces in the building, including a new garden courtyard that serves as an outdoor living room. It also provides daylight, filtered by a covered arcade, to the main corridor and private dining rooms.
In 1987, the Ley Student Center Expansion received a Design Award from AIA Connecticut.