RMC rebuild delayed, likely for one year
The demolition of the Rice Memorial Center has been postponed, Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman wrote to administrators in an email obtained by the Thresher. The delay will likely last one year, she said.
“The new timeline has demolition of the building likely occurring at the end of spring 2023, with a goal of completing the new student center by the end of calendar year 2024,” Gorman wrote.
Economic conditions were a factor in the decision, which had to be approved by the Board of Trustees, and they will inform the final timeline, according to Gorman.
“Various factors are influencing this decision to delay, including an unprecedented construction market and supply chain challenges,” she wrote.
Anzilla Gilmore, the project manager, said in early February that the project was on track to meet its original opening goal of fall 2023. She did not respond to a request for comment on the new timeline and any potential budget increases by the time of publication.
Kristen Ernst, the director of the student center, said she has been reaching out to groups in the RMC to inform them of the delay.
“Caitlin Lindsay [the student center’s associate director for student-run businesses] and myself have been working to make sure that the student-run businesses, the information desk students and other organizations that have spaces within the building get notified about this change as well, since we know that we've been getting questions in terms of move-related pieces,” Ernst said. “We want to make sure we can get that information out as soon as possible to the student groups.”
The RMC’s student-run businesses had found temporary locations to occupy during the construction period. Ernst said the effect of the delay is unclear.
“Since this has just come out today, I don't have specifics on [whether] those [plans] will be exactly the same,” Ernst said. “Obviously, the timeline is definitely going to be impacted, but all of the work that they have done thus far has been asking really good questions that I think will be helpful no matter where the locations are for those new spaces.”
Pub will likely remain in the RMC until the actual demolition date, though its management team has not finalized that decision, according to Elizabeth Groenewold, Pub’s general manager.
“After finally being able to reopen for a long period of time after COVID, we want the new students at Rice to be able to experience real Pub, so staying in the same location for another year is a great way to make sure new students love Pub and understand Pub culture,” Groenewold said.
Theo Vadot, the Hoot’s general manager, said the Hoot will also stay open in the RMC.
“There was no official paperwork that bound us to West Servery, and the process of transition was still early enough that our work wasn’t for nothing and we can just keep operating as always in the RMC,” Vadot said. “In the end, we are [excited] to be able to keep moving with this semester’s momentum in our usual space, and we’ll cross the bridge of a new space when the time comes. We hope that demolition and construction of the new RMC will be able to commence as soon as feasible, but, for now, this is out of our control.”
Jinhee Shin, the general manager of Coffeehouse, said the delay was unexpected.
“Our main priority this semester has been preparing for the move to Old Sid, so the news definitely came to me as a surprise,” Shin said. “Although I’m glad we get to stay in the RMC longer, I wish we had known about this delay much earlier. This news came right before Spring Break, so it makes it harder to have conversations around the updated timeline.”
Ernst said more details will be settled in the coming weeks.
“Once we have more information, we're going to continue to share that more broadly because I know that impacts student-run businesses, that impacts occupants within the building and just in terms of how students are able to engage and still have events,” Ernst said. “We'll still have more time to create community and celebrate our time within the building. I believe [the RMC] will then be 64 years young when it is demolished.”
[3/12/2022 at 1:38 p.m.] This story was updated with a quote from Theo Vadot.
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