South Lovett Lot, which has been closed since Dec. 21, will give way to a new office building and parking garage located to the south of the Allen Center. The Allen Center, which houses the Cashier’s Office, Office of the Registrar and the President’s Office, will remain open throughout the duration of the project.
The new office is projected to open by the beginning of summer 2017. The parking garage is expected to open by the end of summer 2017.
The office building, designed by architecture firm Kieran Timberlake, is comprised of six stories and has enough space to accommodate 295 offices. The currently unnamed building will feature a modern exterior with protrusions to allow for natural lighting.
Kieran Timberlake also designed the LEED-certified and award-winning Brockman Hall for Physics in 2011. The contractor for the project, JE Dunn, also led the renovation work on Herring Hall.
Vice president for administration Kevin Kirby, who oversees design and construction around campus, said the new building will fulfill a need for office space.
“We’re completely out of office space,” Kirby said. “We’re currently vacating two facilities which cost us a lot of money.”
According to Kirby, the new building will feature first-floor conference rooms, which are also intended to provide another study space for students after hours.
Attached to the east side of the office building, the seven level parking garage will house 496 parking spaces, compared to the 114 space South Lovett Lot. The exterior will feature images of fig leafs on large plastic sheets, which wrap around the garage and connect it to the rear of the building. According to Kirby, the garage will accommodate employees and visitors who come for special events.
“We have a long waiting list of people who want to park in that part of the campus,” Kirby said.
According to Kirby, the garage will also be open to students after 5 p.m. and on the weekends.
Entrance 3 is also under renovation to reduce traffic congestion near Main Street. Until its reopening, the entrance will remain open only to emergency vehicles, and the sidewalk connecting the entrance to College Way will remain open for pedestrians. Additionally, the South College Parking Lot will only be accessible via Entrance 4 on Main Street.
Until the project is completed, the Parking Office will designate other lots around campus for employees who previously parked in the South Lovett Lot.
Lovett College senior Nirali Desai said the building project, while inconvenient, is ultimately worth the trouble.
“I think that a parking facility is something that Rice needs,” Desai said. “The construction of a parking lot isn’t going to be pretty or silent, but in the long run it could solve a lot of problems related to parking capacity.”
However, Desai is apprehensive that the building might detract from the campus’ aesthetics.
“Much of Rice’s appeal comes from its natural beauty, which is one thing that the addition of another building is taking away from,” Desai said.