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Board of Trustees announces architecture firm for academic quad redesign

Kelton Keck / Thresher

By Viola Hsia     2/21/23 11:44pm

Rice University Board of Trustees recently announced they’ve selected the architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz for the redesign of the academic quadrangle. 

The decision to redesign the academic quad comes after a unanimous decision by the Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice in June 2021 to move the Founder’s Memorial, as well as a resolution passed by the Student Association on Nov. 29, 2021. The board of trustees announced in Jan. 2022 that the Founder’s Memorial would be relocated within the academic quadrangle.

Nelson-Byrd Woltz was selected out of a final list of four firms that were being considered for the redesign, according to President Reginald DesRoches.

“The design competition included a diverse group of high profile landscape architects,” DesRoches said. “Four firms were selected and invited to the competition from a shortlist of 10 initial candidates. NBW’s team is diverse and includes people from multiple office locations as well as subconsultants. We plan to continue a close working dialogue with NBW as Rice begins a selection process for a major artwork in the quad.”

Thomas Woltz, owner and principal of NBW, expressed the firm’s excitement about the project.

“Being selected as Rice University’s thought partner in envisioning the future of the Academic Quad is a significant challenge and responsibility, in equal measure,” Woltz said, “We are excited to bring NBW’s research-based design process to reimagine this historic space to reflect the values of Rice University: inclusivity, truth telling and belonging.” 

According to DesRoches, design work will continue through this spring and summer, before transitioning to construction in the fall, with the final product being ready by late spring 2024. 

“Nelson Byrd Woltz’s concept both respects our desire to create deeper thoughtfulness and engagement with Rice’s evolution within the Academic Quadrangle and awakens the site’s potential to become a dynamic and welcoming gathering space for students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors year-round,” DesRoches said.

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