Rice: Unconventional Wisdom
Rice | Faculty & Researchers

Office of Institutional Research

Rice Campus

Physical Attributes

The campus has approximately 285 acres of level ground, planted with more than 4,000 trees. The 2.9-mile campus perimeter is enclosed by a hedge of wax leaf ligustrum and a double row of live oak trees. No public roads cross the campus.

Online Campus Tour

Historical Campus Photos

Rice Architecture

Designed over a period of nearly a century, the university campus comprises about 60 major buildings, which reflect many of the stylistic changes of 20th-century American architecture. The design of the university’s oldest buildings, inspired by from the medieval architecture of Southern Europe, uniquely adapted the conventions of the collegiate, Gothic Revival style to the hot and humid coastal plain of Texas. Red, clay-tile roofs, rose-hued brick, cloistered passageways and elaborate stonework characterize these buildings, designed by the Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram. In addition to providing the general plan of the campus in 1910, the firm of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson designed the following buildings:


Administration Building (Lovett Hall) - 1912

Mechanical Laboratory and Power House - 1912

Physics Building (Herzstein Hall)  - 1914

South Hall (Will Rice College) - 1912

Institute Commons and East Hall (Baker College) - 1912 and 1915

West Hall (Hanszen College)  - 1916


With the addition of the recently restored Chemistry Building (1925), the Robert and Agnes Cohen House (1927) both designed by William Ward Watkin and the existing Track & Soccer Field grandstand, these buildings constitute the extant construction built prior to the end of World War II in 1945. Between 1946 and 1950, the university added M.D. Anderson Hall, the Abercrombie Engineering Laboratory, Fondren Library, a president’s house, the Wiess Hall dormitory, Rice Stadium and the Rice Gymnasium and Autry Court. All of the buildings (with the exception of the stadium and gymnasium) were designed by the Houston architectural firm of Staub and Rather.

During the 1950s, as Professor Stephen Fox has pointed out, “The most conservative architecture built at Rice was the most modern.” Modern buildings such as the M.D. Anderson Biological Laboratories, Keith-Wiess Geological Laboratories, Space Science and Technology Building and Hamman Hall, designed by Rice alumni George and Abel Pierce, as well as the new Mary Gibbs Jones College designed by, Lloyd & Morgan, thoughtfully preserved the spatial principles and architectural precedents established by Cram while casting them in a thoroughly modernist architectural vocabulary.

In 1957, university trustees implemented President Lovett’s vision of a system of residential colleges. They constructed extensive additions to the existing residential buildings and established Baker, Will Rice, Hanszen and Wiess, as well as Jones College for women. Additional buildings were also constructed during the 1960s to house the newly formed Brown, Lovett and Sid Richardson Colleges.

Between 1979 and 1994, under the leadership of university trustee Josephine E. Abercrombie, chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, the university renewed its historical commitment to architectural patronage by retaining architects of national and international standing in the design of a succession of buildings:

M.D. Anderson Hall Addition - 1981

James Stirling, Michael Wilford & Assoc.

Robert R. Herring Hall - 1984

Cesar Pelli & Associates

Ley Student Center - 1986

Cesar Pelli & Associates

Alice Pratt Brown Hall - 1991

Ricardo Bofill - Taller de Arquitectura

George R. Brown Hall - 1991

Cambridge Seven Associates

Anne and Charles Duncan Hall - 1996

John Outram Associates

The committee also retained Pelli in 1983 to prepare a new Master Plan for Growth, which served to recommend future construction consistent with Cram’s general plan. With Abercrombie’s retirement from the board in 1994, Vice President for Finance and Administration Dean W. Currie and D. Kent Anderson, Abercrombie’s successor on the Buildings and Grounds Committee, continued this commitment through the turn of the century with the completion of  the following buildings:


James A. Baker Hall III  - 1997

Hammond, Beeby & Babka

Dell Butcher Hall  - 1997

Antoine Predock

Humanities Building  - 2000

Alan Greenberg

Martel College and Master House - 2002

Michael Graves and Associates

Jones College Addition & Master House - 2002

Michael Graves and Associates

Brown College Addition - 2002

Michael Graves and Associates

Wiess College - 2002

Machado and Silvetti Associates

McNair Hall - 2002

Robert A.M. Stern Architects

In 2005, the Pelli plan was supplemented by the development of a 50-year master plan for growth prepared by Michael Graves and Associates. In addition to proposing the use of several important “infill” sites, the Graves plan also proposes the future development of the southwest area of the campus along an axis originating at the intersection of University and Main and extending northward to the West Quadrangle.

Currently, the university is pursuing an ambitious program of new construction. Planned improvements now under construction include McMurtry College and Duncan College, the university’s 10th and 11th residential colleges; the Collaborative Research Center located at University and Main streets; the Brochstein Pavilion; and the South Plant.


This online edition of Rice Facts is a publication of the Office of Institutional Research of Rice University and is copyright 1996–2008 by William Marsh Rice University. It may be freely printed and distributed, unmodified and with this copyright notice, for noncommercial informational purposes. This document may not be distributed in modified form.

© 2008 Rice University
A publication of the Office of Institutional Research (e-mail: instresr@ruf.rce.edu).
Updated: May 20, 2008