The Rice of the Future, 1938

When I’m looking for things in old Campaniles I’m usually all business. I find what I need and move on. But the other day I go tangled up in the 1938 edition and what turned out to be its interesting theme of “The Rice of the Future.” Specifically, I was captivated by something I’d never noticed in this volume before: the artwork. (I don’t know whether it’s odd or throughly predictable that when an old Campanile turns out to be interesting it’s almost always because of the art.)

In 1938 each section was prefaced with a drawing of a proposed new building. They were drawn by Architecture Fellow James Dunaway under the supervision of William Ward Watkin. I have  no idea whether these buildings were ever under serious consideration but the thing that caught my attention was that they look like legitimate Rice buildings. It’s hard not to conclude that we could have done a lot worse and in some cases we did.

There are a lot of these drawings but I’ll show you them all because they’re neat. This first one, a new football stadium, was the only one that was actually built:

Next, the dramatic Commencement Hall, “to be located on the main axis of the Institute approximately 800 feet southwest of the Founder’s statue and facing the Administration Building.” Off the top of my head I’d say that’s just in front of the Shepherd School:

Here’s a look at a completed engineering quad:

A building for the School of Architecture, to be located on the south side of the main entrance, I think on or just in front of the Cohen House parking lot but facing north:

A student union, facing Main Street roughly on the site of today’s Lovett College:

A women’s residential hall, to be located near where Huff House is now but, I think, facing south towards the Architecture Building:

And finally a new gymnasium to replace the original that was already becoming problematic, to be located farther east along Main Street:

Bonus: As I thought about all this, I knew there was something else. I eventually recalled that there was a “Rice of the Future” exhibit in the 1938 Engineering Show, a plaster of paris model of this vision.

Bonus: Oh, those students. Always thinking. (Many thanks to an alert reader!)

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6 Responses to The Rice of the Future, 1938

  1. Leonard Lane says:

    A wonderful find! The exteriors are certainly in keeping with the traditional Rice style. You’re correct, Melissa, many of these designs would have been far better than what was actually built, albeit not so “modern.” I especially like the front “court” setting off Lovett Hall. Alas, we don’t get a “mulligan.”

  2. dnorton2015 says:

    These drawings are fantastic! Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. dnorton2015 says:

    Also, these images would make a great article for the Rice Magazine, since we are 80 years later and I imagine that some Owls don’t read your blog (their loss!).

  4. Jcarr0728 says:

    Sorry, but I don’t get the picture of the tree and it seems like you might. What were they thinking?

  5. Aaron Diehl says:

    This is great. The old drawings are pretty neat. I stumbled across this blog maybe a month ago and have been hooked. Thanks for sharing!

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