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Inside the New Colleges

By Josh Rutenberg     8/20/09 7:00pm

Not only did they open at the same time, but McMurtry College and Duncan College share many of the same measurements and features. Both measure 125,700 square feet, for a total of 281,200 square feet, including the joint-servery. Each features five floors and 324 beds, split among 150 singles and 87 doubles. While the bottom four floors of each college have an internal hallway, the fifth floor is characterized by a single-width hallway with a terrace. The new colleges also have their own servery, complete with private dining rooms and libraries.

In addition, both colleges will be the most eco-friendly on campus. Each room in the new colleges is equipped with "smart [air conditioning] systems that learn the students' comfort level, and open-window and infrared sensors that will put the air conditioning unit in setback mode" for energy conservation, Assistant Project Manager Spencer Howard said. The bathroom pods for the new colleges were also put together prior to construction and then shipped to the Rice campus for installation, Howard said.

Duncan, McMurtry and their servery each feature a green roof, complete with bicolor iris flowers around the perimeter, dwarf bamboo in the center and edges of river rock, Manager of Communications for Facilities, Engineering and Planning Susann Glenn said. The garages of each Masters' House are located inside the servery building, further reducing the new building's environmental impact.

Environmental efforts were not limited to the buildings themselves. In order to save a tree rooted in what was originally intended to be the location of the Duncan College Masters' House, the construction team redesigned the house into an "L" shape, Howard said.

Despite the similarities, the two maintain some key differences.

Duncan College

Duncan is the greener of the two colleges, as FE&P expects the building to obtain the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification, the second-highest possible certification. The layout of the Duncan quad is geometrically designed, and includes a fountain adjacent to the commons, Howard said. Duncan also houses a classroom located on the first floor, which resulted in a different layout of the television lounge and breezeways than in McMurtry, Assistant Vice President for Project Management and Engineering Doug Tomlinson said. In addition, Duncan will contain an Emergency Medical Services suite to provide room for EMS personnel that will serve the north colleges. The brick used in Duncan College was made from a special rose blend of brick requested specifically for the college, giving it a unique coloring, Howard said.

McMurtry College

While the footprint of McMurtry is the same as Duncan's, the layout of McMurtry's quad is the more free-form of the two. Most of the mechanical systems that feed into the new colleges run underneath McMurtry, a pathway which became problematic when Hurricane Ike hit last fall, Howard said. As a result of last September's hurricane, the underground ducts flooded, and the construction team had to rip up the McMurtry commons' foundation and start from scratch. Because of the storm, McMurtry's commons was not ready for O-Week, and a tent was rented instead. However, the tent was paid for out of the McMurtry construction budget and completion of for the commons is expected by the end of August, Tomlinson said. McMurtry features tan-colored brick, similar to that of Lovett Hall. FE&P expects the building to obtain the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver certification.

Also be sure to check out the whole four-page spread on the new colleges.

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