Moody Foundation donates $ 100 million to build new student center

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Photo courtesy of Adjaye Associates

By Hajera Naveed 09/28/21 10:11 PM

Rice received a donation of $ 100 million from the Moody Foundation that will support the construction of the new student center as well as endowments to support some of the centre’s program components, according to President David Leebron. This donation, as well as the Welch Foundation scholarship, are the largest private donations in Rice’s history, according to Leebron.

Leebron said the donation enabled the university to realize the comprehensive vision for the new student center. The new student center was designed by Sir David Adjaye, and reflects the inspiring and central role of the student center, according to Leebron.

“We are extremely grateful to the Moody Foundation for so generously supporting not only this transformative building, but also the programs essential to student opportunity and success,” Leebron said in an email to Thresher. “They took a broad and holistic view of the student experience, a view that matches Rice’s distinctive culture and philosophy.”



Leebron said a generous and impactful donation is always the product of Rice’s key needs and the donor’s best interests.

“I believe the Moody Foundation has been committed to ensuring the quality of our student experience in a world in which the elements of that experience change, which was evident in the student survey conducted by the Student Association ago. several years, ”said Leebron. .

Leebron said the new student center will better serve Rice’s growing population, as the current student center was built when the student population was below 2,000. The Rice Memorial Center was opened in 1958 and the Ley Student Center was added as an extension in 1986. Leebron said the donation will have a major impact on the university and promote student life.

According to Leebron, the Brown Foundation provided the initial grant of $ 15 million to support the project and allowed Rice to move it forward as she sought additional funding.

According to university architect George Ristow, the design for the new student center was chosen through a design competition where stakeholders and end users were able to provide their input.

“Design competitions are a collaborative way to select an architectural design team for projects with a wide range of stakeholders and for buildings that aspire to long-term significance as significant destinations,” said Ristow. “They also allow the compelling ideas of all participants to be taken into account for incorporation into the ultimate design of the facility. “

Miguel Luna, general manager of Rice Coffeehouse, said his main priority in the new student center was to have more workspace for employees and more seats for customers. He also hopes the new Coffeehouse space will include an exterior shutter.

Luna said he was able to meet the project architects and pass on his ideas for the new Coffeehouse space.

“I think all of my comments have been well received and they know that our comments are the most important because, as architects, they don’t know what it’s like to work there, or to be those people. students who go there constantly, ”Luna said.

Ristow said that student input is an important part of the design process. According to Ristow, the programming priorities used to determine space allocations in the planned student center are also based on student input from feasibility studies conducted in recent years.

“We couldn’t do this project without a lot of help from the students. The student leadership has been involved in the design of the new facility from the start of the competition and continues to be part of the project steering committee, which is the decision-making group, ”said Ristow.

In a Rice press releaseElle Moody, a director of the Moody Foundation and Rice University, said the donation will not only support the new building, but will also be an investment in every student.

“As a Rice University alumnus, I know this gift will have a profound and lasting effect on campus and its students,” Elle Moody told Rice News.

Construction will begin in early 2022, and the building is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

The student center design steering committee worked to guide the design and planning of the new student center building, according to Mario Escobor, president of the Graduate Students Association and representative on the committee.

The project’s steering committee includes the university architect, deans of undergraduate and graduate students, other student leaders and academic stakeholders, according to Ristow.

Escobor said he hopes to make changes to the GSA space in the new student center and that the recent donation has encouraged him to continue working with the committee to ensure plans are kept on track for the new building.

“I hope to see a more open and accessible space where graduate students can come together,” Escobor said. “The design of the space focused on making the area functional for meetings while still being able to transition to a more relaxed environment. “

The CEOs of Rice Coffeehouse and The Hoot said they worked with designers to explain their vision for their spaces in the new student center.

Ryan Emelle, chief executive of The Hoot, said she was able to attend meetings to discuss her vision and needs for the new spaces.

“The architects and designers have been really welcoming and accommodating,” said Emelle, a senior at Jones College. “They have a lot of ideas for our spaces, as well as ideas that we haven’t even thought of. So they’ve already given a lot of thought to how we need these spaces to be designed to better serve our businesses. “

Emelle said she was excited about The Hoot’s future at the new student center.

“I’m really excited about the donation because I think it means whatever space we get, it will be designed with great intention to help our business grow, improve, and operate,” Emelle said.

Luna said Coffeehouse is currently deciding on a temporary location for the building to be constructed, but no decision has been made. Emelle also said that no concrete plan has been made for Hoot’s temporary locations, but that one idea is to run the business from one of the campus servers.

Adjaye Associates’ design is three stories, 80,000 square feet and includes a rooftop auditorium. An architectural rendering of the exterior features a pattern of vertical lines, windows and skylights and incorporates circular shapes into its design.



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