Building Boom

Astute commenter effegee noted this about yesterday’s aerial photo: The period of the earlier picture must have been an extraordinary one with so much changing all at once. The 1998-2002 building boom was challenging but I think the level of stress it created was probably small compared to the late 50′s.

I think this is absolutely true. The scope of the change was simply immense and it took place in the context of a campus that had seen almost no significant physical change from the mid-1920s until the end of the 1940s. Just by happenstance yesterday afternoon I was going through some old scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings–I didn’t find what I was hoping for, by the way–and I ran across this article about all the activity on campus. Note the date: July 14, 1957, almost exactly 56 years ago. Also note that the construction of the Biology Building is much farther along than in yesterday’s aerial. Sorry about the bad scan job; I was in a huge hurry.

Building boom 2

See those dark spots? That’s glue. Glue is bad.

Bonus: I think this must be science.


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6 Responses to Building Boom

  1. almadenmike says:

    The bonus photo looks like the solar steam generator that Naomi Halas’ group is using, with the addition of nanoshells to improve heat production/efficiency, to demonstrate off-grid sterilization/sanitation suitable for the billions on our planet who live without adequate sanitation. Rice News sent out a news release and video about this research earlier this week — . On July 8, the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science published a technical paper on the group’s latest results July 8.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Wow. You read those releases! All I have to say in my own defense is that at least I knew it was science.

      • almadenmike says:

        Absolutely! Give Jade Boyd and Mike Williams a pat on the back, when you get the chance. They do a great job promulgating Rice research..

      • mattnoall says:

        It is interesting to zoom in on the picture. Before I read the comment, my initial guess was that someone was doing some communications experiments, so I looked carefully. On the underside of the parabolic reflector (the “dish”) there is lettering spelling out “solar laser”. If one looks that up ( that study is using concentrated sunlight to pump lasers (similar, but different from what is really going on). So, it seems that part of the assembly has been “re-purposed” (such an awkward term in use these days) from another research project, be it science or engineering. Interesing in any case. Thanks for the bonus.

  2. Melissa Kean says:

    And they’re great guys too!

  3. almadenmike says:

    Matt — When I looked at the zoomed image, I also saw “El Paso, Texas”, which led me to the Acro Solar Laser company (, which is surely the source of the Rice reflector. Acro was founded in 1978 by Dennis Cofield, who has been hand-making solar reflectors ever since. Here’s a local newspaper story from 2011, in which the then 74-year-old entrepreneur is still hoping to get the company “off the launching pad.” (

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