Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Saturday, May 18, 2024 — Houston, TX

Academic Quad closed Nov. 6, redesign to be completed April 2024

The Academic Quad will be closed starting Nov. 6 to begin construction of the redesign. Closure and construction are expected to continue through late April 2024. Kelton Keck / Thresher

By Nayeli Shad     11/5/23 11:07am

The Academic Quad will be closed starting Nov. 6 to begin construction of the redesign, according to a campus-wide email from Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Kelly Fox. The closure and construction are expected to continue through late April 2024.

All entrances into the quad will be closed to pedestrians. Access to buildings that surround the quad will remain open through their covered walkways. A temporary walkway will be added to allow ADA access to Anderson Hall while construction of Cannady Hall continues, according to Bryan Miller, facilities and exhibition coordinator for Rice Architecture.

The Board of Trustees announced in January 2022 that the statue of William Marsh Rice would be relocated within the quad in response to recommendations by the Task Force on Slavery, Segregation and Racial Injustice and student comments. In 2020, students notably protested the presence of Willy’s Statue in the quad due to the founder’s history as a slave owner, along with his 1891 declaration that the university be open only to the “white inhabitants of Houston and Texas.” Nelson Byrd Woltz, the landscape architecture firm redesigning the quad, proposed moving the statue between Lovett and Sewall Halls while leaving the plinth upon which it stands in its place.

In conjunction with NBW, Facilities Engineering and Planning first sought feedback from students at the unveiling of the original proposed design March 9. In addition to moving Willy’s statue, the then-proposed design added a curved, tree-lined path through the quad and gathering areas by Fondren Library. The university held additional feedback sessions for faculty, staff, alumni and student affinity groups in April.

University Architect George Ristow said that the feedback indicated to the university which parts of the quad community members wanted preserved and where they wanted to see changes.

“Many students and alumni participated in the survey, which provided a lot of input and helped to prioritize areas within the quad for things like activation through shade and furniture, or preserving historical view corridors — particularly on the eastern third of the quad near Lovett Hall,” Ristow wrote in an email to the Thresher.

The final design, which Ristow said has been endorsed by the Board of Trustees, is yet to be unveiled to the public but will be released soon. Ristow said that the university and NBW have kept true to the original design while making changes according to the feedback gathered.

“The basic framework of paths carries forward ideas that were active in the conceptual design stage, though the overall design has changed to incorporate additional feedback from the Rice Community, through not only the Spring engagement sessions, but also subsequent reviews with leadership and others who have contributed to the design process,” Ristow wrote.

President Reggie DesRoches said the redesign is intended to both reflect the history of Rice as an institution and serve the current campus community.

“The quad is one of the university’s most iconic spaces. It’s what people visualize when they think of Rice, which is why the evolution of this space is so important,” DesRoches wrote in an email to the Thresher. “Our goal with this redesign is to preserve the university’s rich history and create new areas that will build community and deeper connections to this historic part of campus.”

More from The Rice Thresher

NEWS 5/6/24 4:28pm
Rice’s COVID class graduates amid nation-wide campus protests

Rice held its 111th commencement ceremony Saturday, May 4 at Rice Stadium. The class of 2024 walked through the Sallyport, which is currently closed amid ongoing construction of the academic quad, but was temporarily reopened for commencement. For the second year in a row, all undergraduate commencement events were condensed into one day — prior to 2023, ceremonies were typically spread out over a two-day span.

NEWS 5/4/24 2:40pm
Rice SJP ‘liberated zone’ ends, university removes artwork in ‘beautification efforts’

The “liberated zone” on Rice campus and associated events ended Friday, April 26, after four days of programming, according to the Rice Students for Justice in Palestine Instagram page. Unlike overnight encampments spreading at college campuses across the country, Rice SJP disassembled the “liberated zone” each night and returned the following morning. And in contrast to clashes and escalating police responses that have led to some 2,000 arrests from Los Angeles to Hanover, N.H., there were “no major incidents and no arrests” at Rice, according to President Reggie DesRoches.

SPORTS 5/4/24 2:36pm
Rice’s Luke McCaffrey selected by Commanders in NFL Draft

The Washington Commanders selected Rice wide receiver Luke McCaffrey with the 100th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.  McCaffrey was the final pick in the third round, as well as the final pick on the second day of the draft. He’ll compete for a prominent role in the wide receiver room, potentially slotting in as their starting slot receiver alongside Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.