An Engineering Quad (Not the One We Have)

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at the earliest campus construction photos, which are in the William Ward Watkin collection. The other day I stumbled upon something strange in a folder labeled “Engineering Quad.” These are drawings done by Watkin of a plan for the quad and shops and labs next to it. What strikes me about them is how old fashioned the quad itself looks—the building on the right resembles the back of the Physics amphitheater—and yet how modern the shops alongside it appear. The drawings are undated and I’m having a hard time understanding when they may have been done. Watkin lived until 1952, but since the building on the left clearly isn’t Abercrombie, this must have been done before Abercrombie was built in 1948.

Bonus: The shuttle Endeavour over the main quad, this morning. Many thanks to the always prepared Rachel Kimbro!

Larry Joe Miggins, who worked at Rice F&E for many years, was killed in a car wreck this weekend. If you knew Larry, this is a hard thing to take in. He was one of those people who seemed double alive, fun loving, full of enthusiasm and interested in everything. He loved history and was always alert for discoveries that he thought might belong in the archives. He would bring stuff to me, full of delight and telling some crazy story about how he got his hands on it. A lot of people will miss him. I’m one of them. Larry Joe Miggins, RIP.

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9 Responses to An Engineering Quad (Not the One We Have)

  1. Shala Howell says:

    Melissa,

    I love the picture of the space shuttle flying over Rice. Can I include it in my blog’s Friday news roundup? I will credit the photographer of course.

    Thanks,

    Shala (Phillips) Howell
    Brown ’94

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Sure, you can!

    • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

      I was enjoying a cup of coffee in my back yard, overlooking Burnet Bay, when before my eyes appeared the piggy-backed shuttle, and the accompanying plane.
      They seemed close enough to hit with a rock.
      Spectacular!
      Good things come to those who sit and drink!

  2. The unbuilt shops are in the “International Style”, maybe even Bauhaus. That was gaining popularity in the 1920’s and 1930’s, so this could easily be from that time. That style would be an obvious fit for engineering buildings, because the style emphasized basic geometric forms with the structure made evident.

    I love that these beautiful renderings are labeled “sketches”. I wish I could sketch like that. In the first one, the foreground people are just outlines, but the background ones are filled in, so that both are visible, but neither one dominates the view.

    I’d look at the cars in the second rendering to date it. The second rendering has mostly streamlined cars, but one obvious 20’s vehicle, a rather sporty convertible coupe.

    Maybe you should find an archi prof to check it out instead of an amateur like me.

    Endeavour’s Silicon Valley flyover is Friday.

  3. Brad Bucher says:

    I found the picture of the shuttle on it’s last flight over Rice campus so apropos. Rice was a part of the start of NASA with the contribution of the land roughly 50 years ago. > WordPress.com > Melissa Kean posted: “I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at the > earliest campus construction photos, which are in the William Ward > Watkin collection. The other day I stumbled upon something strange in > a folder labeled “Engineering Quad.” These are drawings done by Watkin” >

  4. Pingback: The Endeavour’s Western Tour and Other News of the Week | CATERPICKLES

  5. Barbara Eaves says:

    Melissa – I love these postings. I feel like I know you.

  6. Pingback: Plot Plan, Staub and Rather | Rice History Corner

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