How Do You Make A Quad With Two Buildings?

My day today was totally out of control, but I still have something delicious for you.

The topic of the hedges has come up repeatedly for me in recent days, most recently in the context of commencement. The closed hedges of early decades meant that there was no place to put the growing audience–this is why commencement was moved to the Chemistry Building in the mid-1930s.

Here’s the problem:

So why not open up the hedges? Because if you need a quad and you only have two buildings, something else needs to do the work. Look at this, taken by Maxwell Reade in 1938–they’ve made a quad with only two buildings on it:

But wait, there’s more! While the hedges did the heavy lifting in the middle of the campus, it was trees that were used to shape the rest of an undifferentiated piece of ranch land. Look at this and you can see why Rice’s architect, Ralph Adams Cram, called it “a level and stupid site.” It’s all the same:

The photo above was taken in 1921, but by the 1930s (below) you can clearly see that as the rows of trees planted in the early years began to mature, the empty landscape was being beautifully carved into a series of specific places. This is one of the main reasons for my fascination with the trees.

Bonus: Did you notice the sprinklers in the last picture? Sprinkler technology has come some ways since then.

And finally: I don’t do a lot of posting of other people’s stuff, but this is an important thing. Please come if you can, or send a note.

You can RSVP at Click here to send memories or photos for the remembrance


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4 Responses to How Do You Make A Quad With Two Buildings?

  1. mjthannisch says:

    I’ve done both those sprinklers. I think they were still using the hose ones in 1974.

  2. Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

    Dr. Pfeiffer is leaving!? It is the end of an era! (I just love the title line on the poster. It perfectly captures the idea that Dr. Pfeiffer seems to have been at Rice forever!)

    When my husband was at Rice (he graduated in 1981) he once found an old yearbook somewhere just lying around. It was from the mid-fifties. In it, he found a picture of Dr. Pfeiffer, looking in that yearbook almost identical to what he looked like then in the late 70’s. Melissa, you should find some old and new pictures of him and post them.

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