About McNair Hall

Robert A. M. Stern’s Design Philosophy

"Architecture is a conversation across time" – Robert A.M. Stern

Since its beginnings, the focus and function of the school have expanded exponentially. Technology has advanced, interdisciplinary partnerships have increased, and the enrollment of strong students and the hiring of innovative, first-rate faculty strained the capacity of Herring Hall, the school’s home since 1984. To accommodate the significant transition and expansion that the Jones Graduate School would take on in the new century, a new building became necessary.

But with the need for a new building was also the knowledge that not only must this building be beautiful and in keeping with Rice’s architecture, it also must be innovative, with an eye toward the  future, while reflecting the University’s and the school’s past.

To this end, the award-winning architect and dean of the Yale School of Architecture, Robert A. M. Stern, was chosen to design the new building. Stern’s work is best known for its emphasis on continuity of tradition and for creating buildings that are appropriate to the project at hand, buildings that take into account the spirit of the places in which they are located.

"Architecture is a conversation across time. The subjects of that  conversation may vary, but none is more important than the topic of place. For that reason, it is a particular pleasure for us to work at Rice University, where Ralph Adams Cram’s place-making campus plan and his Lovett Hall have been honored for generations. The building for the Jones Graduate School carries forward the Rice tradition, interpreting and reinterpreting it to meet new and future needs. Comprising three distinct components that define an intimately scaled courtyard, the Jones Graduate School building cloaks myriad functions—including a library, dining hall, and auditorium, as well as classrooms and faculty offices—in Rice’s characteristic St. Joe brick, laid up with wide, flat struck joints. Limestone and matching cast stone trim help articulate the building, which rises to a red barrel-tile roof. A passageway recalling Cram’s open-air arcades forms a sallyport to allow pedestrian movement through the building at its midpoint, further locking its mass into the overall campus pattern."