Thanks to a generous donation from the Moody Foundation, Rice University is $20 million closer to creating its much-anticipated arts center.
The 50,000-square-foot building, now dubbed the Moody Center for the Arts, will be located near the Rice Media Center on the south side of campus and has a tentative grand opening planned for 2015. Costs currently are estimated around $30 million, leaving the university already two thirds towards its goal.
Los Angeles architect Michael Maltzan — known for MoMA's outpost in Queens — has been hired for the pre-design phase.
Los Angeles architect Michael Maltzan — known for converting a Queens stapler factory into temporary exhibition space during MoMA's most recent renovations — has been hired for the pre-design phase to develop three types of spaces: interdisciplinary classrooms and studios, a theater for experimental productions and a pair of exhibition areas.
With his designs ranging from LA's hyper-contemporary Inner City Arts campus to his controversial St. Petersburg Pier in Florida, Maltzan might not be the first architect that comes to mind for Rice's rather conservative set of campus buildings. But with the Brochstein Pavilion and James Turrell's skyspace, the university appears to be ready to break from its trademark Spanish Revival style.
"We feel that Maltzan captures the spirit of what we hope the building will achieve," says Caroline Levander, an English professor whose post as vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives has pushed her to the front line of the center's design committee.
"The Moody Center is meant to be a hub of collaborative innovation that encourages risk-taking in art. These will be new, additional spaces that will connect disciplines from across the Rice campus. In our interdisciplinary areas, which we're calling the Arts Design Kitchen, you may have an engineer working with a historic preservation specialist or a musician co-teaching a class with a visual artist."
The center will provide Rice with its first official student/faculty gallery as well as a secure exhibition space that will allow the university to borrow work from other museums. The 150-seat studio theater will be open and flexible enough to enable dance instruction, another first for the school.
"We feel the building will offer opportunities to create robust partnerships not only throughout the campus, but throughout Houston," Levander says. "The Moody Center will be an integral part of the city's arts community."