Math Science Construction, Part II Plus Parking Woe

Let’s turn back for a moment, shall we, to those shots of the construction of the Math Sciences Building. It’s almost finished here in this image from the summer of 1968. It’s kind of hard to see but if you zoom in and squint a little you can see that the sign now reads “Herman Brown Hall” instead of “Mathematical Sciences” as it did earlier. Sadly, you can also clearly see the very beginning of the end for the big parking lot behind the Chemistry Building.

Math Sci June 1968 neg

One of the unusual things in this batch of pictures is that there are some images of the building’s interior. This one was taken in June:

Math Sci June 1968 2 neg

And this one is from August:

Math Sci August 1968 2 neg

I was just in this building the day before yesterday and it’s as charming as ever:


Bonus: I couldn’t find a place to park after lunch today. In the stadium lot. Seriously.


The Remnant

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13 Responses to Math Science Construction, Part II Plus Parking Woe

  1. Karl Benson '62 says:

    The June interior shot is of a (the?) computer room under construction. Computer rooms aren’t built for charm, but this building is an eyesore, inside and out.

  2. effegee says:

    Basement – west end of the building. It was turned into an orchestra room for the Shepherd School after we moved out in August 1983.

  3. effegee says:

    Richard: Recall that the flooring in both the tape library and the keypunch rooms was 4-6 inches of concrete sitting on cement block. The picture shows the removable panel flooring that was only in the main computer room.

    If I am not mistaken, the view of the computer room is to the west from the near the northern of the two large windows by the hallway and user carrels. The post where the user wall phone was mounted would have been about directly behind the photographer. The “doorway” left side near the far end was where the tiny room where the original electrical panels were located. The tape library was opposite that on the right hand side, out of view. The keypunch (eventually the VAX room) would be slightly ahead and to the photographers immediate right.

    That raised floor system shown in the picture had to have been the most awkward height ever used in a computer room. At 24 inches between deck and top of flooring, it was too tall to move cables comfortably while laying on the floor and too short for most people to get under the floor.


    • Karl Benson '62 says:

      I was involved in building several of these rooms during my career, but I never saw one with a 24-inch raised floor. Usually, it was more like 8 or 12 inches. However, putting a computer room in the basement of a building on the Rice campus is probably not the best idea, which could explain the 24 inches. In those days computers were usually put is space no one else wanted. The subfloor area was also used as a plenum for the precision air conditioning required by mainframes. This requires some sort of fire suppression system in both the room itself and the subfloor area. We used halogen, but it may not have been available in 1968. Also, somewhere there had to be a wider doorway with a ramp to move the equipment in and out.

      • Mark Williamson says:

        The “raised” floor in the computer room was actually level with the floor in the rest of the HBH basement, so no ramp was necessary.

    • Richard Miller (Hanszen '75 & '76) says:

      Didn’t we have to have a hole knocked into the concrete floor when we added the 2501 card reader to the keypunch room?

      • effegee says:


        There were also multiple holes cored when two Vax 750s were housed in the south side of the keypunch room, including one that was 6 inches in diameter. And holes cored into the tape library room as equipment had to be moved into that room too.

        Those rooms had been built to allow for expansion of the flooring system in the main computer room by removing the concrete floor. However, when the time came that it was needed, the cost and disruption due to construction were deemed prohibitive. The Mudd building was being designed and coring holes was relatively cheap.

  4. Pingback: Math Science Plans, 1966 | Rice History Corner

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