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A More Vibrant and Dynamic Campus

  • We must provide the spaces and facilities that will cultivate greater dynamism and vibrancy on the campus and foster our sense of community. To achieve this, we must provide more attractive campus-wide amenities, including a new recreational facility, a reconfiguration of the Rice Memorial Center to house a more substantial dining facility, and the enhancement of outdoor spaces with a special focus on the Central Quadrangle. We should make a greater commitment to incorporate art into the campus landscape and interior public spaces.

     

    As we reaffirm the college system, we must recognize that it is a part—an important and vital part—of a greater whole. The campus-wide experience at Rice must be equally attractive and dynamic if we are to serve all of our students well. A more vibrant campus experience is shaped by the quality of the facilities we offer outside of the residential setting. Informal interaction and dialogue is an essential part of the community we are seeking to create, and it is essential that we create opportunities for meaningful intellectual, social, and cultural interactions between undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. Greater attention to the broader campus experience of both our graduate and undergraduate students will be important in the coming decade.

    From Rice’s founding, Edgar Odell Lovett desired “the physical setting of the [university] be one of great beauty as well as of more immediate utility.” Although our campus is defined by an architectural design of beautiful buildings and elegant landscaping, it nonetheless lacks a sense of vibrancy and dynamism that offers all of our constituencies adequate spaces for social and intellectual engagement.

  • Comments
    • I am often surprised how little human activity is evident on the campus between classes, for instance. I have never been to another college campus where, at some points in the middle of the day, there is virtually no one on the sidewalks or in the quads. And I believe this is a shortcoming; we are missing crucial vitality and energy that is found on other campuses across the country. —Faculty

 

    As a first step toward achieving these aims, we propose a new vision for the Central Quadrangle—the space bound by Fondren Library, the Rice Memorial Center, and Herring Hall—that will transform it into the social center of the campus. This process will involve building a caf� pavilion on the back of Fondren, a renovated student center with a substantial and attractive dining facility, and landscaped outdoor spaces to invite a greater concentration of energy and interaction.

  • Comments
    • Graduate and, in general, academic culture thrives in coffee shops and other spaces as this. We need something desperately. —Graduate Student

      I would like to urge that the student center be significantly expanded with an eye to improving student life on campus. There need to be food options around the clock and perhaps throughout the campus. There need to be bigger and better facilities for students to congregate to work on projects together or to find a quiet nook for individual study. Furthermore, I would like to see the student center become a main attraction on campus, one that we can be proud to bring visitors through. It needs to be more modern, welcoming, and larger. —Alum

      Better neutral common spaces are needed, like a coffeehouse with a real place to sit and places with enough light to read. (Need space for interaction, for casual conversation, for meeting, for reading, for relaxing—this space simply doesn’t exist yet, in my opinion.) An architect with a vision needs to do some serious revamping/expansion of the student center. —Graduate Student

      Rice could greatly benefit from increasing in size from “tiny” to “small.” This increase could bring more of the options of a bigger school to our undergraduate experience here. One thing I think is important is a better student center. With the college system already somewhat separating students from each other, it would be much nicer to have a better area for all students to come together, with a better area to hang out and more food options. —Undergraduate Student

 

    To complement this design and our larger goal of fostering campus community, we must build as soon as feasible a modern and attractive recreational facility, located diagonally across from the Rice Memorial Center and across the road from McNair Hall, home of the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management. The construction of this facility is one of our top priorities, as it is necessary to secure our competitive position and to foster the well-being of all members of our community.

  • Comments
    • While our academic facilities are beyond compare, our recreational facilities are a detriment to the campus and a disservice to the students and faculty who use them. If we are to educate the whole person as you say, we should provide the same caliber environment for physical development and extracurricular endeavors as we do the academics. —Undergraduate Student

      The university needs to construct a student activities center that would include full recreational opportunities for students. The current recreation center’s weight room, pool, and various courts, except for tennis, are substandard and create a recruiting deficit. —Staff

 

    As we engage in design and construction, we also must commit ourselves to integrate art into our campus spaces, both indoor and out, and to care for that art, demonstrating its value to the entire university community and to our city.