A couple of days ago I caught one of my colleagues with a copy of the 1957 Pierce and Pierce design proposal for the Anderson Biology Building. (Sad!) I immediately commandeered it and I’m quite glad I did.
I don’t think I’ve ever called a building proposal charming before, but this one certainly is. The architects clearly understood the purpose of the proposed building and they communicated with equal clarity how their design would enable Rice’s biologists to do their work–both teaching and research–more effectively.
Have a look at this opening section. The lack of jargon, bluster, or grandiosity makes this one of the most refreshing things I’ve come across in the archives in a good while:
The drawings in the packet are just as delightful:
It makes me wish I liked the building better.
While we’re on the topic here are a couple of construction shots. The first one was taken in June, 1957 and the second in February, 1958:
When I was a student I thought the science triplets and Hamman Hall were ugly and awful. Now I come to appreciate Hamman’s careful detailing and finishes (although the lack of elevators in a public building is indefensible even for the time it was built) and especially the way that the science triplets respond in a mid-century way to the materials, scale, and even vocabulary of the earlier Rice buildings.
And notice they specifically call out the mid-century enthusiasm for open-air corridors, seen also in Lovett and Wiess Colleges.
I don’t especially mind these buildings (there are far worse on campus) but I don’t like the open brickwork. Just don’t like the way it looks.
I have to comment. The three buildings in question are a very good examples of architectural design at that point in the 20th century. I think they’ve “aged” well and are still a viable approach to design on the Rice campus. And, the “open brickwork” is a clever answer to the need for ventilation. Or, just decoration. You pick. The Moody Center borrowed the same motif and it works there, too. Thanks for sharing the document!