How many courtyards are in Alice Pratt Brown Hall (Shepherd’s building)?


A) zero

B) one

C) two

D) too many

Until last week, I answered A, judging the building to be a solid block by its imperious facade. The answer is C! Two courtyards with plants and fountains and benches.

This delightful revelation may be a symptom of my major — I know each sidewalk slab between Lovett College and Anderson Hall by name. I have little reason to saunter about Shepherd, but how many non-architecture majors have investigated Anderson Hall (outside Architectronica)?

You can escape campus by leaving it or entering further into it. I go a-wandering to discover spots Rice wouldn’t tout on postcards, like the tiny unkempt garden squeezed against Anderson Biological Laboratory, the lovely shard of tree-dotted and tall-grassed land between Wiess College and the track, and now two pleasant courtyards only open to the sky. Along the journeys, I inevitably meet curiosities like the sundial in front of the Cohen House or the nine marble cubes outside Herring Hall.

One can also micro-wander during class commute. Any deviation refreshes. You may not tread the quickest route because detours excel in surprise, not economy. Why not sacrifice a minute to enter Sewall Hall from the opposite end of the building? Might as well walk through the library rather than around it. Maybe you’ll find a faster route anyway.

Exploring beyond the hedges has merit, but let us not discount exploring within the hedges.