Walls to Columns and the Stuff In-Between

Instructors: Hanif Kara, Mark Lee
Program: Cultural Center on Rice University campus
Year: Spring 2021, GSD
Studio: American Brick in Arcadia

In recent years, Brick Architecture in American campuses has turned into a humbug of sorts. The sight of a thin brick veneer sheet being lined on top of a concrete structure has become its own spectacle, distant from the traditional use of structural brick. This project attempts to bring back the stereotomic nature of brick by proposing an in-between structure for the future American campus. Not quite veneer, and not fully structural. this proposal explores the potential of walls and col- umns and the stuff in between.

The narrative of this proposal is centered around the 2032 Rice Uni- versity Campus Plan in which the school foresses the implementatio of a new southern axis. The site, with its north edge currently facing a campus quad, will now face a grand promenade on the south. The project's facades, in response to these two characteristically distinct perimeters, involve a monumental facade composed of a wall of structural bricks in contrast to a folded brick colonade that invite ample light from the south. The brick wall, however, is not
simply flat stacks of brick; they are folded, and the subtle geometry suggests engaged columns that houses mechanical ducts inside. In the interior sits free standing brick that parted and thickened from the exterior wall, independently supporting the roof.

The plan of the project is defined by three linear bands; the north band houses the mechanical, essential cores, elevators and service rooms, the center band houses program, and finally the southern band functions as a portico and transition into the building. The goal of this organization is two fold; to establish a clear position toward the new southern axis, and the embedding of the building’s machine (exhausts, electricity, elevators, etc.) into the tectonics of a traditionally Renaissance facade. By doing so, the attempt was to renegotiate the relationship between traditional structural brick and the needs of the modern campus.