Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Walking through Rice

The docent said the carvings are supposed to be representative of what happens on campus. Here, women and sports tempt a student away from his books. I love the parasol and the old-fashioned football gear.
Last weekend I went on a walking tour of Rice University. I've been there before (I've taken a few continuing education classes) but I'd never really explored the campus.

It's a huge campus, 295 acres (not as big as my alma mater, UT, but still, a good walk). Originally, it was out in the suburbs, but the city has grown up around it. Now, it's an easy 10 minute walk from campus to the Texas Medical Center.
Although Rice's mascot is the owl, squirrels are plentiful
Rice was built under the influence of the City Beautiful Movement, and the campus was designed to be a public square, encouraging interaction. The architecture is a mixture of a lot different styles, but that's part of what makes it interesting to visit. There's modernism, and touches of gothic, a little Chinese architecture, and some Northern Italian. Like the city of Houston, it's a multi-national mixture that is uniquely itself.

over the door of the James Baker III Institute
AIA Houston sponsors the tour, which takes about 2 hours. If you go, you have to see the frog wall, which is not photogenic, but a high point of the tour.  I'm still trying to think of a way to install something similar in my house.
The James Turrell Skyspace - not at its best at 11 am, but still striking.
I love the way it makes you focus on the qualities of natural light.
One of our tour members dressed for the occasion

It might be January, but there are still a few flowers left

My mental image of Rice: arches and oaks.
Fun fact: Superbowl VIII was at Rice. 

Not a under a live oak, but still lovely
The campus is covered in and surrounded by live oaks.  From outside the campus, you barely see the University, just avenues of oaks. This is not only beautiful, but practical, as Rice was built before air-conditioning. Houston weather demands as much shade as possible. There are tables and chairs set up under trees all over campus, taking full advantage of the shade and encouraging outdoor living (hard to do in Houston). 


  1. The squirrel picture is absolutely mesmerizing. Put that one in your planned photo book, I say. The similar colors and yet mix of textures between the wood and the stone captivates the eye, and I love the parallel between the squirrel on the tree and the little goat-devil creature curled up in the stonework.

    1. Thanks! I try to make the pictures interesting.