The new office building and parking garage next to the Allen Center is expected to open in October after delays from Hurricane Harvey, according to Kathy Jones, associate vice president of Facilities, Engineering and Planning.
Before the hurricane worsened, Jones did not predict the storm would delay construction of the building, which started in March 2016 and was supposed to be completed by Aug. 31.
The building’s parking garage opened early to help save vehicles from flooding during Hurricane Harvey, Jones said.
Students will be allowed to park from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 a.m. on weekdays and anytime on weekends for free if they already have a permit from another lot, according to parking manager Mike Morgan. Staff and faculty can buy parking tags for $700 to use the lot for the fiscal year and visitors can pay $1 for every ten minutes in the garage with a daily maximum of $12.
The new office building will house several offices that were previously located off campus in the Memorial Hermann–Texas Medical Center building. Memorial Hermann did not renew Rice’s lease in its building due to a demand for more medical offices, Jones said. Rice’s lease expires at the end of October.
The building will also serve as a temporary home for the Liu Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the first floor. Its other occupants, including Development and Alumni relations and the Office of Institutional Technology, will move in at the end of September and the rest during early October.
Dr. Yael Hochberg, head of Rice entrepreneurship initiative, said any member of the Rice community can have 24 hour access to the lab after completing a short orientation and having their Rice ID activated to enter the space.
The lab will be a large open space with a couple of small staff offices, small conference rooms, a staffed entry desk and a kitchenette, and will be filled with movable furniture of varying types, according to Dr. Hochberg. LILIE will also use the lab to host specific events and entrepreneurship related experiential courses.
Duncan College sophomores Anthony Cho and Namanh Kapur, the 2016 recipients of the LILIE New Entrepreneurship Grant, said they are both looking forward to the opening of this lab. The scholarship awards $10,000 to incoming students to develop entrepreneurial ideas.
Cho said that the new innovation lab’s greatest strength is that it will provide a collaboration space for the Rice entrepreneurial community.
“For a long time the entrepreneurship community at Rice has been sparse and split,” Cho said. “With the new entrepreneurship initiative much of that has changed.”
Kapur said that there are no places on campus to start businesses and where different start-ups can interact.
“I'm looking forward to having one place on campus I can go to when I want to build and innovate,” Kapur said. “It'll also be convenient to connect and converse with people in the new LILIE space. This is the same reason big technology companies have amazing workplaces. The better the work area, the more productive and efficient the teams. A physical space can make the difference between good and great.”
Dr. Hochberg said the permanent lab will be larger and built through renovating an existing campus building or constructing a new building.
The other offices moving into the upper floors of the Cambridge building in late September and early October are the Controller’s Office, Human Resources, the Internal Audit Department, the Parking Office and Crisis Management.
“Anyone from the Rice community will be able to access the building to conduct business with the tenants after they have moved into the building,” Jones said.