Office of the University Architect

The Office of the University Architect oversees campus planning and land use, design of new facilities and significant alterations or additions, campus design standards, historic preservation of buildings, and stewardship of aesthetic consistency for the campus grounds, all in support of place-making, cohesion across generations, sustainability, student life, and academic excellence.  

The University Architect communicates regularly with the Rice senior administration and the Buildings and Grounds Committee to facilitate site selection, project definition, Board of Trustees funding approvals, and design consultant selection. The Buildings and Grounds Design Subcommittee reviews and directs significant design efforts through meetings coordinated and facilitated by the University Architect several times per year.    

The communities near campus and the greater Houston area have transformed immeasurably since Rice's first building was complete in 1912. Throughout this growth, the campus has maintained exemplary harmony and delight in its facilities' architecture, forming spaces both open and dense, natural yet ordered, and respectful of the Gulf Coast climate and habitat. The grounds and facilities feature works by world-renowned artists, curated and maintained by the Moody Center for the Arts. The campus was designated as the Lynn R. Lowrey Arboretum in 1999, containing over 4,200 trees, various native plants, and the Harris Gully Natural Area (HGNA), a vital ecological corridor and watershed component of Brays Bayou. 

A variety of resources are referenced for planning and design efforts when new campus projects enter the early stages of consideration. The "General Plan" as envisioned by architects Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson – with support from Rice's first president Edgar Odell Lovett – is the guiding point of departure from 1909, along with many master plan initiatives that followed and built upon each other's principles, particularly between 1980 and 2020. The Integrated Campus Plan – a flexible, option-based digital model developed by KieranTimberake in 2016 – tests development scenarios relative to a master planning "base case" buildout model. In addition to the Integrated Campus Plan, the 2017 Capital Project Development Guidelines and the Landscape Framework Plan (last updated by Michael Vergason Landscape Architects in 2018) are used to establish and align site planning expectations and aspirations for projects impacting the campus built environment.