Herman Brown Hall for Mathematical Sciences was built in 1968 with funding from the Brown foundation and the NSF as part of what was called the “Systems Grant.” (This grant–and its failure to be renewed–was hugely important in the history of the university. I’ll say more about it sometime.) It’s kind of a big square building, intended to provide a lot of office space and a few classrooms. In the intervening years there have been a lot of different departments (and pieces of departments) in there, everything from music to education–so many that I don’t have any confidence that I can accurately list them.
It’s not an especially attractive building and it sits a bit uncomfortably on its site. I believe it was built during a period when the original campus plan had been essentially abandoned and nothing new had yet taken its place. One of the interesting things about it is the covered open-air walkway on its west side. I don’t know why this is there–maybe a nod to the cloisters of Rice’s older buildings. In any event, my attention was really grabbed by this picture that shows the view through this walkway. Zoom in and have a look.
I was so taken that I immediately got up from my desk in the Woodson and set out to have a look at the same spot. At first glance, the view is totally different. That’s the Mudd Building, home of IT, you see through there now:
But if you walk over to the other side of the Mudd Building for a quick peek, there’s the same house, seemingly unchanged except for the vegetation. Surprise!