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Jones School breaks ground on new expansion, final project to wrap up spring 2026

A new wing of McNair Hall will extend towards the Shepherd School of Music. A serrated brick exterior will block afternoon sunlight and mitigate light pollution impacting Skyspace. Rendering courtesy of the Architecture Research Office

By Riya Misra     5/19/24 8:57pm

The Jones Graduate School of Business will expand its building, constructing an additional 95,000 square feet around McNair Hall. Rice Business announced blueprint plans for the new $54.5 million building at its groundbreaking May 9. The new building will include multiple large classrooms, lecture halls, dining facilities, event spaces and communal areas, designed to “blend seamlessly with the campus and its surroundings.

The project was slated to begin Feb. 2, 2024 and wrap up by Jan. 2, 2026, according to its details page on Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. The Jones School had switched construction firms on the project after reopening the bid to additional developers, chief business officer at the Jones School Christian Rafidi told the Thresher — the switch delayed the project’s timeline, impacting both construction and operating hours for Audrey’s. The final building is now expected to be complete by spring 2026.

Rice Business is still in the process of fundraising $40 million for the project, Jones School dean Peter Rodriguez said at the groundbreaking. New York-based firm Architecture Research Office, which has worked on Calvin Klein’s Paris headquarters and Princeton University’s architecture school renovations, will spearhead the project. Houston-based Kirksey Architecture will serve as the executive architect. 

The new space will integrate the building’s existing architecture, wrapping “the south and west sides of the school’s existing McNair Hall, introducing new public spaces between the two,” according to ARO’s project description on its website. Woodson Courtyard, the patio just outside of Audrey’s, will be enclosed by floor-to-ceiling paneled windows and a coffered ceiling with skylights. The building will extend closer towards the Shepherd School of Music, with the newly-constructed wing sitting adjacent to the James Turrell Skyspace. The angled brick exterior will “maintain the views from within and … mitigate light pollution affecting the Skyspace at night,” according to ARO.

Rice debuted its undergraduate business major in 2021 — now, over a quarter of new students are interested in the major, according to 2023 data from the Office of Academic Advising. In January 2024, the Jones School introduced its new hybrid Master of Business Administration program, shortly after the U.S News & World Report ranked its online MBA program 12th in the nation. The new building will “support the entrepreneurial spirit and unique learning culture” of the Jones School, ARO said.

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