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Rice breaks ground on new Social Sciences building

Photo credit: Christina Tan

By Sree Yeluri     9/19/18 2:30am

Rice University marked the commencement of the construction of the new School of Social Sciences building at a groundbreaking ceremony next to Tudor Fieldhouse on Thursday, Sept. 13.

The building, which will cost $38 million to build, will be named the Patricia Lipoma Kraft ’87 and Jonathan A. Kraft Hall for Social Sciences in honor of the lead donors, as reported by Rice News.

At the ceremony, Rice President David Leebron said the new building fits with Rice’s ambitions.

“This building is about two things: it is about our aspirations as a university and our impact on the world,” Leebron said.

For the design of the building, Antonio Merlo, dean of the School of Social Sciences, said he asked architect Rob Rogers (Baker ‘81) to think about the ideals of community and transparency. The building, which is expected to be finished in December 2019 and will be four stories and 73,000 square feet, will include classrooms, conference rooms, student lounges and a multipurpose space with a nearly 300-person capacity for bigger events, according to a Rice News article. 

The building is set to house the office of the Dean of the School of Social Sciences, sociology lab space, the Texas Policy Lab, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, the Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance and the Houston Education Research Consortium, according to Courtney Stefancyk, the events and communications specialist of the office of the Dean of Social Sciences.

Merlo said the construction of the new building is a milestone in Rice’s commitment to expanding the presence and impact of the School of Social Sciences. 

“I, along with many, have looked expectantly to this day and I’m honored to be a part of creating a home for our students, faculty and staff—one that would serve as a point of connection between our scholars in the Rice Community, the city of Houston, the state of Texas and the wider world,” Merlo said.

Anson Tong, co-chair of the Social Sciences Student Advisory Board, said the new building will provide more classroom and workspace for students while adding to Rice’s commitment to being a school that excels in the social sciences. 

“Having a dedicated social sciences building provides a physical center for the community,” Tong said.

Connor Rothschild, a member of the SSSAB, said the new hall will build a sense of community among social science majors.

“A collaborative space full of students with a common goal to understand and impact the world will inevitably create great ideas and even better leaders,” Rothschild said.

Merlo said there are plans to open a time capsule on the 75th anniversary of the building’s construction.

“The discipline of social sciences itself is experiencing a renaissance in the United States as students and scholars seek to understand and mitigate the issues of our day,” Merlo said. “In the midst of increasing social, political, and economic complexity, the Kraft Hall for Social Sciences will stand as a beacon, broadening our research visibility and impact while connecting our students and faculty to the resources, leaders and spaces that will turn policy into practice.”

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