Just like the national ranking for our majors, the School of Social Sciences at Rice University is literally rising up. This time next year, faculty, staff, and students will have a much easier time putting the social in Social Sciences as they unite under one roof and take advantage of new student lounges, research spaces, and first floor classrooms in the Patricia Lipoma Kraft ’87 and Jonathan A. Kraft Hall for Social Sciences, a new home for the School of Social Sciences.
Since the Sept. 13, 2018 groundbreaking ceremony, construction has focused on the concrete structure. “Foundations were completed at the end of 2018 and were followed by slabs and columns for the first two floors. The slab and columns at levels 3 and 4 are under construction now,” said Tyler Swanson, Associate Partner at Rogers Partners. “Getting out of the ground and completing the foundation were major milestones for the project. Foundation work is much more affected by weather than elevated structure work. Some rain events caused short delays as the ground dried out while completing footings and grade beams. The project successfully cleared the foundation work phase while remaining on schedule,” said Swanson.
Social Sciences community members, prospective students, and campus visitors cannot help but feel excited when passing by the construction site. Perhaps one of the most eager, Antonio Merlo, dean of the School Social Sciences, goes on a daily walk from his current office in Sewall Hall to the construction site across from the Baker Institute to monitor progress. “I’m delighted to see the building project moving forward. Each time I visit the site it is very exciting to see something new and different, whether that be a column going up or entire floor taking shape.” Merlo agrees that faculty and students are continuing to get more and more excited as they imagine themselves working and learning in the new building. Faculty are beginning to think about their new offices and the quantity of bookcases they will need to accommodate their book collections and students are curious to know which classes will be held in the new classrooms during the spring 2020 semester.
“At this crossroads, Kraft Hall for the Social Sciences will offer interesting paths through the building and the campus landscape. We’re most excited about the new opportunities for collaboration and social gathering that these new circulation routes – multiple stairs, landscape paths, and the courtyard – will offer to students, researchers, faculty, and the general public,” said Rob Rogers, Owner at Rogers Partners, Architects + Urban Designers. This is exciting project for Rogers because he is a Rice alumnus from the class of 1983. “It is a special honor to be asked back to the campus to design one of the major new buildings – and the first of a new south axis. Rice Architecture has long been one of the leading schools in the country, so of course, we have many Rice Alumni in our office and on this project. Each of us are delighted and proud to add to the amazing Rice campus,” said Rogers.
If you plan to be on campus in May for Rice’s 106th Commencement, Kraft Hall be “topped out” and visitors will notice the construction of the exterior skin of the building according to Larry Vossler, Senior Project Manager in the Department of Facilities Engineering and Planning. Work on the large staircase that will overlook the courtyard and act as an architectural feature will also be underway according to Swanson.
The four-story, 73,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed in December 2019 and open prior to the spring 2020 semester. More information on Kraft Hall is available at: https://socialsciences.rice.edu/kraft-hall.