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| Squid Skin


| Biodiversity Threat


| Deep Axess


| Rice in a Box


The Magazine of Rice University

| Football Recap

No. 9 | 2011


Excellence by Design The Rice School of Architecture

Contents 4



Two Rice faculty members have been named recipients of Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers.


Workers have put the finishing touches on the new Brockman Hall for Physics.

Immigrants’ health appears to decline for those most integrated into U.S. culture.


Researchers use supercooled atoms to achieve a breakthrough quantum simulator.


The Rice Design Alliance does more than facilitate dialog about Houston’s built environment; it works to effect positive change.



Children aren’t the only youngsters who are picky eaters. More than half of all species are believed to alter their diets between birth and adulthood, and therein lies the danger.


As Rice’s Centennial Celebration approaches, where better to gain insights into Rice history than from the university’s own centennial historian?


The Rice School of Architecture is building some impressive rankings.

Many of us can name multiple reasons for being drawn to our chosen professions. Architectural historian Stephen Fox has only one.

RSA Cover photo: Tommy LaVergne


Rice film school




14 For a publication that celebrates all the aspects of being an imposter, PLAT sure feels authentic.

20 Campus by Design

15 Two Rice seniors are among 40 students across the nation who were named Marshall Scholars this year.

Architecture is central to Rice’s goal of creating campuswide dynamism and a broader sense of community.

16 How do you create a visitors center and spice up Fondren Library at the same time? Ask Rice architecture students.

By David W. Leebron

22 A Conversation With Sarah Whiting As the new dean of the Rice School of Architecture enters her second year, we sat down with her to ask about her interest in architecture, her impressions of Houston and her plans for the school.

18 Architecture student involvement in Rice Gallery is one example of Rice students’ willingness to cross boundaries and bring together different fields of inquiry.

26 Revitalizing Lives: Architecture and the Third Ward

19 With the Centennial Celebration less than two years away, some Rice students are trying to put Rice in a Box.

One of the most formidable training grounds for Rice architecture students, the Rice Building Workshop’s many programs carry the impact of the Rice School of Architecture into the lives of people beyond the hedges.


By Linda Day

42 Rice University is known for its distinctive architecture and its canopy of stately trees. Now it also will be known as a setting for major works of public art.

30 Sweating the Details, Illuminating Students

Dawn Finley and Mark Wamble are pure practitioners of architecture as well as faculty members at Rice. Even they can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. By Mike Williams


32 Working From habitats to commercial buildings to public spaces to landscapes, the student projects in the Rice School of Architecture’s online archive, “Working,” are as conceptually powerful as they are visually arresting.

44 Call this collection of poetry a greatest hits album from one of America’s finest contemporary poets. 44 When a young attorney landed a job with one of America’s most prestigious law firms, little did he know how profoundly one of its pro bono cases would alter his life.

By Christopher Dow

36 New Urban Typologies In focusing on scale, infrastructure and ecology and their potential to interact in new ways within architecture, Neyran Turan makes sure that the basic idea of a building is not lost.



44 Sometimes we praise them, and sometimes we scorn them, but when weathercasters speak, we always pay attention. 45 Houston history and urban planning all figure in the story of the city’s most famous cemetery.

By Mike Williams

38 Bumping Up the Bytes


Researchers in laboratories the world over rely more than ever on high-performance computers, and Rice has more than 40 times the shared supercomputing capacity it had just six years ago. Now the new Blue BioU, courtesy of IBM, will more than double that capacity.

46 Rice football is a year older and a year better, and they did it with a 100 percent graduation rate.

By Jade Boyd


48 Matthew Reckling not only had to become a great baseball player, he had to do it on a field named for his grandfather. Rice Magazine

No. 9




Rice Magazine No. 9


We all notice it: from impressive facades to cool interiors, from grand urban spaces to intimate gardens. We live, work and play within it and rely on it to enrich our environs as well as protect us from the elements. It is architecture, and in this issue we celebrate the Rice School of Architecture (RSA), which has been part of the academic and professional curriculum here since the university opened. RSA became a formal school in 1965, and today it remains relatively small, with about 100 undergraduate and 100 graduate students. But despite its size, the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs are ranked No. 3 and No. 9 respectively by DesignIntelligence, the publication of the Design Futures Council. The rankings reflect the excellence of the school’s core faculty of 18 architects, historians and theoreticians who are joined each year by renowned visiting critics, scholars and lecturers. The rankings also are evidence of students whose ambitions exceed the rote design of functional buildings. Perhaps that’s because the school has become a think tank that builds knowledge not just about the art and science of creating buildings, but also about the whole constellation of relationships that go into architectural design: environments; technology; patterns of use; and historical, political, economic and physical contexts. Many of RSA’s overarching ideas are explained by Architecture Dean Sarah Whiting in the Q&A beginning on Page 22 and in other features and articles on the school and its programs. A central theme is to encourage student architects to utilize Houston as a laboratory in which to explore and experience the architect’s role within the contemporary metropolis and, from there, the broader world. In “Sweating the Details, Illuminating Students,” we look at the work of Dawn Finley and Mark Wamble, two pure practitioners of architecture, and in “New Urban Typologies,” at the work of Neyran Turan, who focuses on contemporary interpretations of scale, infrastructure and ecology. In “Revitalizing Lives: Architecture and the Third Ward,” we review one of RSA’s most prominent educational and outreach efforts: the Rice Building Workshop. To really see how the school instills the idea of engagement on multiple levels, be sure to sample the exciting student designs on display in the feature titled “Working.” The wellthought-out concepts for various types of structures showcase their designers’ willingness to tackle the challenges that communities will face in the years to come. Shorter pieces include a profile of architectural historian Stephen Fox; a look at PLAT, a student-created architectural journal; and a survey of the many ways that architecture students contribute to the installations in Rice Gallery. One article sure to interest readers covers the results of a student competition to design a theoretical visitors center in Fondren Library. I learned from our coverage of the Rice School of Architecture that, for the best architects, what one thinks is inseparable from what one does — that the problems of a city, or the world, can be solved through a combination of aspiration and ability. That reminds me of Rice’s mantra: Unconventional Wisdom. At Rice, we believe nothing is impossible. There is no disease that cannot be cured, there is no injustice that cannot be rectified, there is no environment beyond saving and there is no “what if” that cannot become “what is.” It just takes radical thinking to get there and a community of brilliant, passionate dreamers and doers to lead the way. That’s why we challenge convention at every turn: from the uncommon research approaches we take to the fresh solutions we find, from the way we collaborate across disciplines and in the classroom to the way we teach, and from our unparalleled student–teacher ratio to the way we insist on advancing tomorrow’s thinking. It sounds like a lot from a small university, but that’s what makes us special. That’s what gives us unconventional wisdom. I hope you find some of that wisdom in this issue of Rice Magazine.

Published by the Office of Public Affairs Linda Thrane, vice president Editor Christopher Dow Editorial Director Tracey Rhoades Creative Director Jeff Cox Art Director Chuck Thurmon Editorial Staff B.J. Almond, staff writer Jade Boyd, staff writer Franz Brotzen, staff writer Jenny West Rozelle, assistant editor David Ruth, staff writer Jessica Stark, staff writer Mike Williams, staff writer Photographers Tommy LaVergne, photographer Jeff Fitlow, assistant photographer The Rice University Board of Trustees James W. Crownover, chairman; J.D. Bucky Allshouse; D. Kent Anderson; Keith T. Anderson; Laura Arnold; Subha Viswanathan Barry; Suzanne Deal Booth; Robert T. Brockman; Nancy P. Carlson; T. Jay Collins; Douglas Lee Foshee; Susanne Morris Glasscock; James T. Hackett; Larry Kellner; Robert R. Maxfield; M. Kenneth Oshman; Jeffery O. Rose; Lee H. Rosenthal; Hector de J. Ruiz; L. E. Simmons; Charles Szalkowski; Robert B. Tudor III; James S. Turley; Randa Duncan Williams. Administrative Officers David W. Leebron, president; George McLendon, provost; Kathy Collins, vice pr esident for Finance; Kevin Kirby, vice president for Administration; Ron Long, interim vice president for Investments and treasur er; Chris Muñoz, vice president for Enrollment; Carol Quillen, vice president for International and Interdisciplinary Initiatives; Linda Thrane, vice presi dent for Public Affairs; Richard A. Zansitis, vice president and general counsel; Darrow Zeidenstein, vice president for Resource Development. Rice Magazine is published by the Office of Public Affairs of Rice University and is sent to university alumni, faculty, staff, graduate students, parents of undergraduates and friends of the university. Editorial Offices Creative Services–MS 95 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, T TX X 77251-1892 Fax: 713-348-6757 E-mail:

Christopher Dow





”This is a celebration of a rich history and a preview of what is yet to come.” —Linda Thrane


Celebrating 100 Years of Lovett Hall It’s not often that people sing “Happy Birthday” to a building, but in early March, an estimated crowd of 500 students, faculty, staff and other friends of Rice gathered in front of the university’s first building, Lovett Hall, to do just that. The event celebrated the 100th anniversary of the laying of Lovett Hall’s cornerstone March 2, 1911, and it also continued to build momentum for another century milestone: the Rice Centennial Celebration in 2012. Lovett Hall was built on prairie land on the outskirts of Houston — a town of 80,000 people at the time. Originally called the Rice Institute Administration Building, this Houston landmark was renamed in 1946 in honor of Rice’s founding president, Edgar Odell Lovett. “As Edgar Odell Lovett said at the founding ceremonies, what they sought was an institution that aspired to university standing of the highest grade,” said President David Leebron. “This building that we celebrate today was designed to represent that level of ambition.” Lovett Hall, distinguished by its nearly 30-foothigh arch — the Sallyport — has become an iconic structure for the Rice campus, the city of Houston and education in general. It was even pictured in an episode of “Sesame Street” as Elmo envisioned himself going off to college. The cornerstone, which is fashioned from Ozark marble, holds a sealed copper box containing a copy of the King James version of the Bible, the charter of the institute, brief biographies of William Marsh Rice and the trustees, a photograph of the general campus plan, and copies of the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Daily Post. “A centennial comes only once to an institution,” said Vice President for Public Affairs Linda Thrane, “and we are using occasions like this to let folks relive and relish the milestones that made Rice the world-class institution it is today.” Thrane noted that Lovett Hall’s centennial coincides with the 175th anniversary of Texas independence. “You cannot celebrate Rice’s centennial without celebrating the city and state it grew up with,” she said. “A great city and a great state need a great university, and vice versa. This is a celebration of a rich history and a preview of what is yet to come.” —B.J. Almond

Rice Magazine

No. 9



Nano Squid Skin Nanotechnologists, marine biologists and signal-processing experts from Rice University, the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., and other U.S. universities have won a $6 million grant from the Office of Naval Research to unlock the secrets of nature’s best camouflage artists. Ultimately, the team hopes to create metamaterials that emulate some of the elegant skin colors and patterns produced by marine animals. “Our internal nickname for this project is ‘squid skin,’ but it is really about fundamental research,” said Naomi Halas, a nano-optics pioneer at Rice and the principal investigator on the four-year grant. “Our deliverable is knowledge — the basic discoveries that will allow us to make materials that are observant, adaptive and responsive to their environment.” Halas said the project was inspired by the groundbreaking work of grant co-investigator Roger Hanlon, a Woods Hole marine biologist who has spent more than three decades studying the class of animals

The group plans to use patterns of organized nanostructures to create sheets of materials that can change colors quickly — like the pixels of a high-definition television screen — but that also can “see” light in the same way that squid skins do. called cephalopods, which includes the squid, octopus and cuttlefish. One of Hanlon’s many discoveries is that cephalopod skins contain opsins, the same type of light-sensing proteins that function in eyes. “The presence of opsin means they have some primitive vision sensor embedded in their skin,” said Halas, Rice’s Stanley C. Moore Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and professor of chemistry, of biomedical engineering, and of physics and astronomy. “So the questions we have are, ‘What can we learn from the way these animals perceive light and color? Do their brains play a part, or is this totally downloaded into the skin so it’s not using animal CPU time?” Halas said the project has several tracks. The team’s marine biologists — Hanlon and Thomas Cronin of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County — will investigate how cephalopods sense and use light to regulate their skin’s patterns, colors and contrasts. “This project will enable us to explore an exciting new avenue of vision research — distributed light sensing throughout the skin,” Hanlon said. “How and where that visual information is used by the


nervous system is likely to uncover some novel neural circuitry.” It will be up to the team’s engineers to try and emulate cephalopod skin using new metamaterials, compounds that blur the line between material and machine. Halas said the group plans to use patterns of organized nanostructures to create sheets of materials that can change colors quickly — like the pixels of a high-definition television screen — but that also can “see” light in the same way that squid skins do. A key component of the material will be unique clusters of nanomaterials discovered by Rice chemist Stephan Link, Photos: Roger Hanlon

Watch the video: › › › 79 a co-investigator on the grant. Halas said Link’s materials are very sensitive to changes in their environment and can more easily change colors than other nanomaterials. Another type of nanoparticle will likely be used for light sensing, and the team also will need a control mechanism — a system for processing incoming light signals and generating camouflage output. Coinvestigator Peter Nordlander, a Rice physicist, will work on optics, and materials scientist John Rogers, a co-investigator at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will help bring everything together into a package that’s large enough to be seen without a microscope. “This is an inherently multidisciplinary problem,” Halas said. “No one is going to understand this unless you have marine biologists talking in detail to systems engineers, who talk in detail to nanotechnologists, who talk in detail to the people who integrate everything. There has to be strong dialogue among everyone.” —Jade Boyd



Farinaz Koushanfar

Emilia Morosan

Obama Honors Rice Professors Two Rice University faculty members have been named recipients of Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Barack Obama. Emilia Morosan, assistant professor of physics and astronomy and of chemistry, and Farinaz Koushanfar, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, are among 85 researchers to earn the honor, the highest bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their careers. President Bill Clinton established the awards in 1996 to honor those who pursue innovative research and are committed to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or

funding me to work on new superconductors,” said Morosan, a condensed matter physicist. “The recognition is amazing, but the best thing is that I get more funds, and I can hire new people to do more of this great work. I cannot overstate the value of the extra funding as a result of this award.” Morosan, who has also won a National Science Foundation CAREER award since coming to Rice, said her lab is looking for compounds with unique interplay between crystallographic, magnetic and transport properties that will make a new generation

and communicating embedded systems,” Koushanfar said. “There is a growing trend in embedding intelligent computation in the physical world, from our schools, homes and shops, to cars and airplanes, and to weapons in the battlefield. These pervasive embedded systems need to be energy efficient, adaptive and secure.” Morosan and Koushanfar aren’t the only members of the Rice family to receive the award. Virginia Davis, who earned her Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 2006, also was among the awardees. Now an associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering in Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, she was recognized for her innovative research to advance the understanding of nanomaterials

“I am confident that these individuals, who have shown such tremendous promise so early in their careers, will go on to make breakthroughs and discoveries that will continue to move our nation forward in the years ahead.” — President Barack Obama

community outreach. The winners are nominated by 10 federal departments and agencies and are expected to tackle grand challenges and contribute to the American economy. Research grants for up to five years often accompany the awards. “Science and technology have long been at the core of America’s economic strength and global leadership,” Obama said. “I am confident that these individuals, who have shown such tremendous promise so early in their careers, will go on to make breakthroughs and discoveries that will continue to move our nation forward in the years ahead.” “I was nominated by the Air Force Office of Strategic Research, which is already

of practical, high-temperature superconductors possible. Koushanfar has earned three previous awards for young faculty: a CAREER award and a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Young Faculty Award, both in 2007, and an Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Program award in 2009. She was nominated by the ONR for the presidential honor and expects her grant will contribute to ongoing ONR work that focuses on networking for adaptive and energy-efficient radio communications. “We’re going to exploit the PECASE grant to focus more on security aspects of low-power and energy-efficient computing

as well as their dispersion, microstructure, processing and properties on a macro scale. In addition, she was cited for engaging in outreach activities involving K–12 students from underrepresented groups. In her research, Davis explores how nanomaterials can be assembled into newer, more advanced materials, including macroelectronic devices, sensors, electro-optical devices and antimicrobial coatings that could prevent diseases from spreading on contaminated surfaces. —Mike Williams

Know More: ›› ›

Rice Magazine

No. 9



Centennial Challenge to Young Alumni WHY I GIVE

Brockman Ha Hall for Physics “Every great resource I enjoyed at Rice was made possible by generous alumni. It’s my turn to return the favor.” Annalise Gill Dawson ’07

Majors: German, English

I never thought ... I would miss being a student so much. The debates and discussions, the papers, the exams, the clubs — oh, the memories! I dare to ... dream, reach for the stars and push my limits — something I learned from my talented professors and friends at Rice. My favorite Rice moments ... are too many to count, but late-night conversations, midnight trips to Amy’s and Dennis Huston’s lectures top the list. Annalise Gill Dawson is one of many recent graduates (Classes of 2000–10) who are rising to the challenge for Rice by supporting the Rice Annual Fund. Each year, your Annual Fund gift influences Rice’s college ranking and supports one of the best student experiences in the nation. Make a gift to the Annual Fund by June 30 to double, or even triple, the impact of your support through the Centennial Challenge to Young Alumni.

Learn more and make your Annual Fund gift today at:


Workers have put the finishing touches on the new 110,000-square-foot Brockman Hall for Physics, and the building is now home to Rice’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. With a basement floor that is two feet thick to provide a solid foundation for sensitive equipment, the building also has ultraclean power systems for lab equipment, top-of-the-line air filtration systems and a host of other features designed for the needs of contemporary researchers. Stargazers also will have a new perspective, thanks to the relocation of the Rice observatory dome from a parking lot to the top of the building.


Rice Design Alliance When David Crane became the dean of architecture at Rice University in 1972, he saw a problem. Houston was fixated on expansion, but hardly anyone discussed publicly what was being built, what ought to be built or what the city as a whole should be. There should be a way, he thought, to encourage that discussion. Crane’s idea turned into the Rice Design Alliance (RDA), one of Rice’s first community outreach organizations. RDA, which turns 40 next year, began as a group of academics and architects that sponsored public forums and lectures and addressed significant yet underdiscussed questions: Could the bayous be recovered as ecosystems and public amenities? Could the city’s neglected parks become more vibrant? What mass transit strategies make the most sense? Since RDA’s inception, its overarching goal has been to empower individuals and communities to shape an even better city. The most visible of RDA’s successes have come from design competitions. The first, in 1985, attracted 119 entries from across the country and resulted in a design for the birthplace of Houston — Sesquicentennial Park — on Buffalo Bayou. Now, along banks that once were ignored and disconnected from the city, joggers and paddlers are a common sight. In 1992, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends of Hermann Park joined RDA to sponsor Heart of the Park, a competition in memory of longtime Rice Architecture Dean O. Jack Mitchell. The competition led to a master plan and major improvements to the park. The vibrant conviviality now on display at Hermann Park is a far cry from the dilapidation of yesteryear. In 2007, participants in RDA’s annual design charette were challenged to design a bridge for Memorial Park. The winning


tours of houses in Houston, engaging large numbers of visitors, many of whom have had little to no exposure to architect-designed houses. Likewise, RDA tours to other cities and even other countries led by faculty, such as architectural historian and lecturer Stephen Fox and architects and professors John Casbarian and Carlos Jimenez, have inspired Houstonians to bring the best of what they’ve seen back home. In 1982, RDA created Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston. Eighty-five issues later, the mix of high design and down and dirty civic engagement remains vital. Cite now has an online blog,, and made its archive freely available at OffCite hosts a new initiative called Unexpected City that asks Houstonians to submit descriptions of favorite locations, thereby drawing from the knowledge of people outside Rice’s hedges. Houston, of course, remains elusive. Although RDA has contributed to an improved quality of life in Houston, the chase is far from over. The city still defies description, much less planning, and the discussions that David Crane imagined nearly 40 years ago have only just begun.

The Living Bridge

99K House

design — the Living Bridge, dedicated in 2009 — provides safer pedestrian movement through the park. In 2008, the 99K House Competition drew 182 entries for the design of an energy-efficient 1,400-square-foot house in Houston’s historic Fifth Ward. The home, completed in 2009, serves as a prototype of quality-designed, affordable and sustainable housing. RDA’s efforts extend to other areas as well. Since 1977, RDA has featured lectures by some of the world’s brightest — and often most controversial — architects and critics. The lectures, presented in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Brown Auditorium, often draw overflow audiences of students, faculty and local practitioners, as well as architecture buffs from around Houston. In 1978, RDA began offering architectural

As RDA begins a new decade and the School of Architecture approaches its second century, the two are entering a new era of collaboration with the hopes of having a concrete effect on the city. “I came to architecture because I first wanted to be an architecture critic for a newspaper,” said architecture Dean Sarah Whiting. “For me, architecture is the most public of the arts, and fostering a public discussion about it is essential. RDA has an established and respected place in the community, and it’s my hope that the school further expands that outreach in order to help Houston envision new urban futures.” —Linda Sylvan

For membership and program information, visit: › › ›

Rice Magazine

No. 9



Ecological Effects of Biodiversity Loss Underestimated Children aren’t the only youngsters who are picky eaters: More than half of all species are believed to change their diets — sometimes more than once — between birth and adulthood. And a new study by ecologists at Rice University and the University of California at Santa Barbara finds that this pattern has major implications for the survival of threatened species and the stability of natural ecosystems. With thousands of species facing Earth’s sixth major mass extinction, there is little doubt that the planet’s biodiversity is in rapid decline. But many questions remain about how natural ecosystems will respond to the lost diversity. The new study, published in Ecology Letters, challenges one of the standard assumptions that ecologists have used for decades to analyze the effects of biodiversity loss on ecosystems. That assumption — that all food resources used by a species are interchangeable among all members of the species — fails to account for the fact that diets change as young animals develop into adults, said Rice ecologist Volker Rudolf, one of the study’s co-authors. The findings suggest that changing dietary needs within species have important implications for ecosystem health. “If a species has three resources in an ecosystem, and we take away one, conventional wisdom suggests that that species should be fine,” said Rudolf, assistant professor in ecology and evolutionary biology. “But if the missing resource is crucial for a particular developmental stage of the species, that just doesn’t work. You can’t take away all of the adults, for example, or all of the larvae, and assume that the species will persist.”


“Our results suggest that the increasing loss of biodiversity — due to changing climate, habitat destruction and other causes — will likely have much more devastating effects on natural communities and result in a greater number of species extinctions than previously believed.” — Volker Rudolf

The study was made possible by a wealth of information from recent data sets collected by co-author Kevin Lafferty and colleagues at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The data sets cover seven food webs — each representing the network of connections between dozens to hundreds of species in an ecosystem. Rudolf said Lafferty’s food webs include data about specific resource requirements for particular developmental stages within species, in some instances for as many as 50 percent of the species in the ecosystem. “With this data, we were able to estimate the percentage of resources that are actually shared among developmental stages,” Rudolf said. “In addition, we were able to show how this affects the stability of natural ecosystems. We found that in most food webs, the individual stages of a species typically share less than 50 percent of their resources, and within certain subgroups, like metamorphic species, that number is sometimes less than 10 percent.” The researchers used the information to formulate computer models that simulated how the loss of species affects natural ecosystems. One important implication of the finding is that natural ecosystems are much less stable than previously assumed, and many at-risk species may face an even greater likelihood of becoming extinct than ecologists previously thought. “Our results suggest that the increasing loss of biodiversity — due to changing climate, habitat destruction and other causes — will likely have much more devastating effects on natural communities and result in a greater number of species extinctions than previously believed,” Rudolf said. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation. —Jade Boyd

Read the study: ›› ›



Quantum Simulator One of Year’s Top Breakthroughs Rice University’s high-profile efforts to create a quantum simulator were featured in Science magazine’s coveted “Breakthrough of the Year” coverage. The breakthrough came after Randy Hulet, the Fayez Sarofim Professor of Physics and Astronomy, along with several Rice colleagues and theoretical collaborators from Cornell University, used lithium atoms cooled to within a few billionths of a degree of absolute zero to create a precise analog of a one-dimensional superconducting wire. The research is part of a three-year, $5 million effort aimed at using grids of intersecting laser beams and supercooled atoms to simulate the sometimes vexing behavior of superconductors and other materials.

Describing the significance of the quantum simulator, Science wrote that while physicists usually invent theoretical models to explain experiments, quantum simulators can “let the experiment solve the theoretical problem.” The results could prove particularly useful for the study of high-temperature superconductors, materials that have defied theoretical description for more than three decades. The team’s study, titled “Spin-imbalance in a one-dimensional Fermi gas,” was published in the journal Nature, and the research is funded by the Army Research Office under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Optical Lattice Emulator.

Rice History at Your Fingertips

Read the study: › ››

Up With RSA! The Rice School of Architecture (RSA) has risen among the nation’s top 10 in a ranking of undergraduate architecture schools by the Design Futures Council journal, DesignIntelligence. As reported online by Architectural Record, RSA went from ninth place last year to No. 3 in the new ranking of America’s best architecture schools. Rice has consistently ranked among the nation’s top 10 over the past decade. “It’s terrific to see that others believe that we’re moving in the right direction,” said RSA Dean Sarah Whiting, the William Ward Watkin Professor of Architecture. “It’s a confirmation that our interest in what I call ‘speculative practice’ — that is, innovative means of practicing contemporary architecture and urbanism — is smart. Rice’s small size enables us to be a think tank, engaging new ideas and thinking ahead to what needs to be done.” —Mike Williams

As Rice’s Centennial Celebration approaches, where better to gain insights into Rice history than from the university’s own centennial historian, Melissa Kean ’96? Kean is famous at Rice for digging into dusty and obscure corners of the campus in her quest to uncover the treasures and tidbits that bring the university’s past to life. And now, she’s posting some of her findings in her Rice History Corner blog. In addition to Kean, interested readers also have been supplying information. Visit the Rice History Corner blog at: ›› ›

Read the report in Architectural Record: › ››

Rice Magazine

No. 9




A V2C Progress Report

Part 2

As we continue our series highlighting achievements that have occurred at Rice under President David Leebron’s Vision for the Second Century (V2C), we look at some of the interinstitutional and interdisciplinary undertakings that connect Rice to Houston, the region and the world beyond. Goal 4: We must aggressively foster collaborative relationships with other institutions. As President Leebron often points out, a small school with big aspirations such as Rice must recognize the importance of collaboration and understand that partnerships are required to solve the world’s complex problems. But Rice is more than a leading exponent of interinstitutional collaboration; it is a major exporter of high-level expertise wherever it can benefit human progress and well-being. The extraordinary alliances between TMC researchers and physicians and Rice bioscientists and bioengineers are a case in point. A premier example is the Rice–TMC Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, spearheaded by Rice and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and funded with $250 million from the Department of Defense. This new institute will search for innovative ways to quickly grow large volumes of bone tissue for craniofacial reconstruction for soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan — techniques that eventually will become available for facial reconstruction for civilian victims of catastrophic injury. This is by far the largest federal investment ever made in regenerative medicine, and it’s no coincidence that a Rice–TMC collaboration plays a crucial role. Cancer is a special target of a number of Rice–TMC partnerships. In one, funded by the National Cancer Institute, researchers from Rice’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics, the radiology department at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center are taking aim at deadly pancreatic cancer. Another team, led by Rice’s John McDevitt and including MD Anderson, BCM and the University of Texas at San Antonio, is developing low-cost, noninvasive cancer diagnostics.


Rebecca Richards-Kortum, the founding director of Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technologies, is devising a new imaging system for the early detection of oral cancer. Rebekah Drezek is working with researchers at the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy on combined immunotherapy and light-activated photothermal cancer therapy. And the Bio-Assembler™, a device for culturing cells in three dimensions by magnetic levitation for more accurate tests of cancer drugs, was developed by Rice researchers in collaboration with the MD Anderson Cancer Center. There are literally scores of other Rice– TMC collaborations, ranging from revolutionary heart pumps to genetic studies. On one of these fronts, researchers from Rice and the Texas Heart Institute are using nanoparticles to track stem cells. The nanoparticles being used in this endeavor are the invention of doctoral student Lesa Tran ’07, who created them while she was a Rice undergraduate. Rice also cultivates collaborations with industrial partners to create technologies that address today’s most pressing problems. Among them are several projects funded by the Lockheed Martin Advanced Nanotechnology Center of Excellence at Rice University and a partnership with Texas Instruments to create the technological foundations of tomorrow’s wireless communications networks. In addition, Rice has been selected by AECOM, a global provider of professional technical and management support services, to participate in a $50 billion-plus program to provide training for engineers charged with modernizing urban housing, transportation capabilities and water systems in major Libyan cities. Goal 5: We must invest in a select number of interdisciplinary endeavors. Collaborative culture that crosses disciplines,

integrates teaching and research, and intermingles undergraduate and graduate work is important to leverage intellectual as well as technological and financial resources. Long a strategy in the scientific and engineering disciplines, collaborative culture is increasing within the humanities, social sciences and other areas as well. The Humanities Research Center has a history that goes back more than a decade, but the last four years have seen a significant ramping up of interdisciplinary activities that have transformed it into one of the most recognized humanities centers in the world. Bringing humanities researchers together with researchers in the social sciences, natural sciences, engineering and music, and offering programs for undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, the center has become a major interdisciplinary hub at Rice. Another recent interdisciplinary achievement is the melding of the Houston Area Survey — the longest-running collection of data ever amassed about a U.S. city — with the Center on Race, Religion and Urban Life to form the new Kinder Institute for Urban Research, which we covered in our last issue. The Kinder Institute will do for the social sciences what the Humanities Research Center has done for the humanities and is just one of a number of new initiatives and programs that strengthen Rice’s relationship to Houston, to the enhancement of both. One of Rice’s most productive interdisciplinary endeavors is the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, a nationally recognized initiative devoted to the support of technology commercialization, entrepreneurship education and the launch of technology companies. Ranked among the top entrepreneurship programs in the United States by the Princeton Review, Entrepreneur magazine, the National Consortium of


Entrepreneurship Centers and others, the alliance also hosts the Rice Business Plan Competition, the premier program of its kind in the world. In 2010, 42 graduate-level teams from around the globe competed for more than $1 million in prizes, and 2011 promises to be even more spectacular. Over the last few years, the Rice Alliance has assisted in the launch of more than 250 start-up companies — more than 40 of which are based on Rice technology — and raised in excess of $500 million in early-stage funding. Rice is home to more than 60 such centers and institutes, but interdisciplinary and interinstitutional efforts here aren’t just about formalized initiatives. Scores of our researchers across the disciplines are engaged in solving problems with researchers in other departments, schools and institutions at every level, from local to international. The Gulf Coast Consortia (GCC) is a perfect example. Bringing together Rice, BCM, the University of Houston, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and MD Anderson Cancer Center, the GCC builds interdisciplinary collaborative research teams and training programs in the biological sciences at their intersection with the computational, chemical, mathematical and physical sciences to provide a cutting-edge collaborative environment and research infrastructure — one beyond the capability of any single institution. Goal 6: We must continue to invest in our professional schools and integrate their success into the broader university. Our professional schools — the Shepherd School of Music, the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business and the School of Architecture — all rank in the top tiers nationwide.

One of the country’s premier music schools, the Shepherd School of Music is celebrated for its orchestral, conducting, opera and composition programs. More than 70,000 Houstonians regularly attend more than 350 concerts and recitals offered each year by Shepherd School students and faculty, and Shepherd School graduates have won coveted positions in leading orchestras and opera companies around the globe. In fact, 38 percent of the artists in the Houston Symphony this season are Shepherd alumni, teachers and current students. As icing on the cake, Shepherd School students have been selected for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Conservatory Project for eight consecutive years. In 2010, the Fiske Guide to Colleges named the Shepherd School among the top 10 undergraduate music programs. The Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business has made dramatic progress in entrepreneurship education over the last four years. During that time, the school moved from an unranked position into the No. 6 spot in the country, according to the Princeton Review. The Jones School is one of only four schools to achieve a “Top 10” ranking during both of the past two years, and its full-time MBA program was ranked fourth in the world for finance and ninth for accountancy in the Financial Times’ 2010 survey. Just recently, the Jones School’s MBA program was ranked No. 1 in Texas and the Southwest by The Economist, among the top 15 for finance and accountancy by the Princeton Review, and No. 8 among professional MBA programs by Businessweek. Ranked No. 3 according to Design Futures Council’s 2011 report, the School of Architecture undergraduate program builds a solid foundation for the architects of tomorrow. Students at the School of Architecture have access to an advanced computer


visualization and research laboratory, a fully equipped model shop and a state-of-the-art fabrication facility. They also gain real-world experience during preceptorships with prestigious architecture firms around the world, and each spring, the school sends 10 fifthyear bachelor’s or third-year master’s degree candidates to the Rice School of Architecture Paris. You can read much more about the Rice School of Architecture in this issue. Although not strictly one of Rice’s professional schools, the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies annually enrolls more than 12,000 people in its professional and personal credit and noncredit courses, making it one of Texas’ largest sources of continuing education courses. In addition, its English as a Second Language program attracts students from more than 100 countries, and the school’s Master of Liberal Studies has grown into the secondlargest master’s program at Rice. As important, the Glasscock School is one of the nation’s largest providers of professional development for more than 4,000 Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate teachers each year. For many of its programs, the school collaborates with organizations such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Houston Museum of Natural Science; the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance; the Writers’ League of Texas; the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Houston Chapter; and HR Houston. Now, the school is raising funds for a new $24 million building.

Learn more about the Vision for the Second Century: › › ›

Rice Magazine

No. 9



I Love Buildings Many of us can name multiple reasons for being drawn to our chosen professions, but architectural historian Stephen Fox has only one. “I love buildings,” he said. “That’s the whole reason.” Fox graduated from Rice with a B.A. in 1973 and earned a degree in architecture here two years later. “After I graduated, I knew I did not want to be an architect,” Fox said. “Architectural history was of much more interest to me.” For three years after he graduated, he assisted architect Howard Barnstone, who was writing a book about Houston architect John F. Staub. Following that, he worked with Drexel Turner ’69, then assistant to Rice Dean of Architecture O. Jack Mitchell, on a research project called the Houston Architectural Survey, a database of research on historical architectural sites in Houston. More historical architectural research and writing followed, including work for Turner on a book on the 19th-century Galveston architect M.J. Clayton. Fox, who began teaching in the Rice School of Architecture in 1990, is now the author of six books and numerous book chapters, articles and essays. Among the books are several on Rice architecture, notably “The Campus Guide: Rice University” (Princeton University Press, 2001). “The Rice campus is regarded as one of the great examples of the American university campus,” he said. “Its designer, Ralph Adams Cram, was one of the outstanding American architects at the beginning of the 20th century, and Rice’s buildings have always been distinctive because of Cram’s Byzantine-influenced architecture.” In describing Lovett Hall, Rice’s most iconic building, Fox said, “Cram saw Lovett Hall not only as a precedent for what future buildings at Rice ought to be, but also as a model for architecture in a hot, humid Southern setting. As exotic as Cram’s architectural theme was, he was very careful to build Lovett Hall with materials that were rooted in its location. The brick was made from clay from Buffalo Bayou, the base course of the building and all the exterior floor surfaces are Texas granite, and the marble is an Ozark marble. It was a very daring way to imagine what an architecture for Houston and Rice might be.” But as much as Fox appreciates Cram’s style, he’s not bound to it. “I’m least comfortable with architects who feel they can simply replicate Cram’s architecture,” he said, “and I tend to applaud the architects who stretch the most.” Brochstein Pavilion is one of his favorite new buildings. “This is a brilliant building and fully in the Cram tradition of great architecture,” Fox said. “Architect Thomas Pfeiffer and landscape architect James Burnett designed a building and landscaping of extraordinary simplicity and refinement.” Another favorite is Herring Hall, by Cesar Pelli, which Fox said


stemmed from the postmodern reaction against modern architecture typical of the 1970s and 1980s. “Although it’s an architecture that is now held somewhat in low regard,” he said, “it’s beginning to be reassessed critically and will come to be recognized as one of the great buildings of that period in the nation.” Fox also is fond of Dell Butcher Hall. “Antoine Predock’s design for Butcher Hall is in Rice tradition, but it also resulted in a very imaginative and inventive building that deals very successfully with an extremely difficult site and is very mindful of the experience of the people who occupy it.” Fox said that the Rice architectural style has influenced the architectural heritage of Houston, but in a sequence of cycles rather than continuously. One of the earliest influences was Cram’s avenues of live oak trees, which were carried into surrounding neighborhoods by Cram’s protégé William Ward Watkin, who stayed at Rice to become the founding professor of architecture. Watkin also designed other buildings in Houston and carried Rice’s architecture beyond the city as the master planner for Texas Tech University in Lubbock. But Watkin’s most important role, Fox said, was as a public figure and a professional leader. “Rice architecture faculty also have pursued the role of leadership, not just locally, but nationally and internationally,” he said, “through both their architectural work and their academic careers. This is a direct reflection of Watkin’s influence.” Fox’s current project is an update of his “Houston Architectural Guide” (Herring Press, 1999) that will reflect the extensive body of new buildings that have been constructed at Rice since the book’s initial publication. —Christopher Dow



Mexican Immigrants’ Health Declines as They Assimilate to America Mexican-Americans who are most integrated into the culture — including those born in the United States and those who are not recent immigrants — appear less healthy and more likely to require resources to manage their health conditions than more recent, lessintegrated migrants, according to a new study from Rice University, Duke University and the University of Colorado Denver. Bridget Gorman

The study examines gender differences in Mexican immigrant health using data from the 1998–2007 National Health Interview Survey. In particular, the research reveals that this pattern of declining health among immigrants who are in the U.S. the longest holds more strongly for men than women. Conversely, the research indicates that, among new arrivals, women report poorer health than men. “Men who have recently migrated from Mexico tend to report better health than women,” said Bridget Gorman, associate professor of sociology at Rice and lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. “This could be in part because men are more likely than women to migrate to the U.S. in search of employment — often in physically demanding jobs — and at younger ages.” “The implications of our fi ndings run counter to the popular belief that recent immigrant arrivals are taxing the U.S. health care system,” said Jen’nan Read, associate professor of sociology and global health at Duke and co-author of the study. While men tend to start out healthier than women, their health declines at a faster pace as they adapt to the U.S. culture. “In particular, the risk of diabetes increases at a strong rate for MexicanAmerican men, even after we account for a variety of factors that might explain this relationship, such as smoking or income,” Gorman said. “Yet, among women, diabetes status appears mostly unrelated to their acculturation level.” Gorman and her co-authors, Read and Patrick Krueger of the University of Colorado Denver, found that the major mechanism driving these patterns is access to and utilization of health care. Women are more likely to use the health care system because of their

roles as family caretakers; they are more likely to be in contact with doctors and, therefore, more aware of their ailments, according to the authors. In contrast, men, especially those who immigrated more recently, are much less likely to use the health care system and therefore may not know

among residents.” “When Rice University fi rst gave us funding to conduct this study a few years ago, we wanted to explore how social and economic circumstances, along with health behaviors, collectively impacted the reporting of medical conditions among Mexican-Americans,”

“Men who have recently migrated from Mexico tend to report better health than women. This could be in part because men are more likely than women to migrate to the U.S. in search of employment — often in physically demanding jobs — and at younger ages.” — Bridget Gorman

they are sick. Over time, male immigrants become increasingly likely to use the health care system, and thus the gap between men and women begins to close. “From a policy perspective, this highlights the necessity of improving access to and utilization of medical care services among men,” Gorman said. “Not only would this help address an important unmet health need for many men, it also would permit health researchers to more accurately assess and forecast medical care need and use

Gorman said. “We expected to fi nd that medical care access and use was important in this process, but we did not expect it to play such a dominant role in shaping differences between men and women.” —Andrea Fereshteh and Jessica Stark

An abstract of the study is available at: ›› ›

Rice Magazine

No. 9



PLATting the Future For a publication that celebrates all the aspects of being an imposter, PLAT sure feels authentic. And with just one full year under its belt, it also has reached a level of maturity that points the way to a very real future. PLAT is a journal produced by students at the Rice School of Architecture that features a lively collection of essays by writers from Rice and beyond who look at the world through the lens of architecture. To nonarchitects, that lens sees things, well, differently. Architects employ a language, especially with each other, that is largely opaque, and the writers in PLAT aren’t wholly immune, often rising into their own rarified spheres. But there’s enough common ground in PLAT that someone browsing a bookstore might stop, look and plunk down $15. At least, Sean Billy Kizy hopes that’s the case. As one of the publication’s two directors, the architecture graduate student hopes the impressive book will serve one specific purpose: to get Rice-born ideas out into the wider world. The fi rst issue of PLAT — architects use the term as a verb meaning to plan or sketch — was a slip of a thing, 56 pages of short essays by Rice students and faculty members that appeared last fall. That issue, referred to as 0.5, whet the students’ appetite to create something bigger. And here it is. PLAT 1.0 is an ambitious, 150-page collection of analog goodness that takes as its theme the imposter in architecture.


Stories include the difficulties posed by high-rises in Houston, the “painted veils” of architectural restorations, a treatise on how gambling at the infamous Balinese Room saved Galveston and much more. Contributors joining a host of Rice authors hail from around the country and as far away as New Zealand. That 0.5 came out at all is “a miracle,” Kizy said. “I have no idea how that hap-

pened.” The journal is brainchild of a halfdozen RSA graduate students frustrated that so many of their good ideas were going for naught. “In studio, a ton of ideas get thrown away or put to the side,” Kizy said. “So this is an outlet for us. We had all this work

that wasn’t being published, wasn’t being seen by anybody, and we wanted a way to talk about it.” PLAT’s staff of about 12 students, who, as Kizy put it, “made the terrible choice of putting something else on their plates,” plans two issues a year. They will follow the format introduced in 2010: a thin fall issue that may be more casual and ask questions that the more substantial spring issue will address. “It will be nice to have the freedom to explore the things we’re interested in as students,” said Kizy, who earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan. “We’re trying to look at culture, from economics to dance to whatever, through the lens of architecture — through the built environment and how it affects our work.” PLAT goes against the tenor of these digital times and is published as a printed piece. Producing such quality work is expensive. Kizy said a gift matched twice over by the donor’s employer provided enough funding to produce the magazine through issue 1.5. While Kizy sees opportunities for an online addendum to the print version, publishing in analog is part of the point. “We’re really stuck on having something you can touch and hold,” he said. “Something you can send through the mail.” —Mike Williams

Order a copy of PLAT 1.0 at: › › ›


Two Rice Seniors Named Marshall Scholars Rice seniors Anthony Austin and Jingyuan Luo are among the 40 students across the nation who were named Marshall Scholars this year.

The Marshall Scholarship, founded by an Act of Parliament in 1953 to commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan, allows intellectually distinguished American students to pursue two years of graduate study at any institution in the United Kingdom. Austin plans to use the scholarship to complete a Master of Advanced Study degree in Part III of the Mathematical Tripos at the University of Cambridge and a Master of Science in pure mathematics at Imperial College London. “The Marshall Commission has graciously granted me a rare opportunity to undertake some of the most challenging

Anthony Austin

degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics. He is currently part of an undergraduate engineering design team working on an unmanned aerial vehicle to Mars. He has received the Outstanding Junior Award in electrical engineering and the Hubert E. Bray Prize in Mathematics. As a Century Scholar at Rice, he has conducted research with faculty members Mark Embree and Steve Cox in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics. Ultimately, he intends to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics and to become a university professor. Luo will use the Marshall Scholarship to complete a Master of Science degree in

Jingyuan Luo

London, Luo will consider law school or a Ph.D. in the biological sciences. At some point in her career, she wants to communicate the importance of scientific research to policymakers and the public. At Rice, Luo is pursuing dual degrees in biochemistry and cell biology and in policy studies. Also a Century Scholar, Luo has conducted biological research with former Assistant Professor Mary Ellen Lane in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and is currently researching stem cell policy with Kirstin Matthews, a fellow in science and technology policy at Rice’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy

“The Marshall Commission has graciously granted me a rare opportunity to undertake some of the most challenging mathematics courses in the world at the U.K.’s best universities.” —Anthony Austin

mathematics courses in the world at the U.K.’s best universities,” Austin said. “I am looking forward to doing a lot of good math and meeting a lot of interesting people.” Austin said the opportunity to study abroad will give him a chance to appreciate the U.K.’s culture and history. “I’ve always had an interest in the history of World War II and will now have the opportunity to travel to some of the places most impacted by it,” he said. “There is a lot of good mathematical history to be enjoyed as well. After all, Cambridge has been home to some of the world’s most brilliant scientists and mathematicians, from Isaac Newton to G.H. Hardy. Getting to experience this connection to the past will be a treat.” At Rice, Austin is working on dual

biomedicine, bioscience and society at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master of Research in stem cell biology at Imperial College London. “The biomedicine, bioscience and society master’s degree is unique in that it addresses the regulatory, ethical and societal implications of emerging biotechnologies,” Luo said. “I am excited about expanding my knowledge of the legal issues involved in biotechnology and learning more about bioethics.” Luo said she is very eager to explore London, where she plans to get involved with the science policy community. She hopes to spend some of her free time enjoying ballet performances at the famed Royal Opera House. After she completes her degrees in

and an adjunct lecturer in sociology. Luo has interned at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C., and at the Institut français des relations internationales in Paris. At Rice she is chair of the Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium and was the policy chair for the Rice chapter of the Children’s Defense Fund. She also volunteered in China as a Loewenstern Fellow and served as a Social Sciences International Ambassador while studying abroad in Paris. “Rice has provided me with unparalleled experiences, and I am very grateful for the support I have received,” Luo said. “It still has not sunk in that I am a Marshall Scholar. I am thankful for everything that has happened.”

Rice Magazine

No. 9



VisionsforVisitors Rice architecture students got a lesson in problem solving last fall when they were asked how they would remedy two long-standing campus conundrums. The first: Rice’s lack of a prominent, accessible visitors center, one large enough to house a long-envisioned Rice museum. The second: Fondren Library’s lack of exterior allure.

Deep Axess

The winner, Deep Axess, by grad students Marti Gottsch, Melissa Seven teams of Rice School of Architecture (RSA) students took on McDonnell and Matthew Austin and undergraduate Jenny Zhan, the challenge of designing one solution for both problems in a sinearned the highest marks for its elegant combination of utility and gle weekend. Their intense activity was part of the Visitation Rights visual appeal in following the mandate to create a Rice visitors center Fall Design Charette, a juried competition. Each team presented that would be high-profile, centrally located and universally accesideas for a new visitors center that would also make Fondren more sible and that would provide an excellent welcoming and, in some cases, more view of the campus. (Rice’s current Welcome functional as a library. Center is tucked away in Lovett Hall, just inGreg Marshall, Rice’s director of uniside the Sallyport.) versity relations, pitched the idea of a Calling their creation “a pavilion in the Fondren-based visitors center to RSA Dean air,” the team keyed in on Rice’s central axis, Sarah Whiting, who decided it was perfect which flows outward from the Sallyport. subject matter for the fall charette. Marshall “Rather than producing a visitors center was grateful for the students’ enthusiasm. “I through a solely additive process,” the team know architects don’t sleep,” he said, “but wrote, “Deep Axess embeds, excavates and to be able to pull this off in three days is cuts through Fondren Library and the axial incredible.” organization of Rice to provide a contempoThe teams, which were to include rary, public space.” at least one returning and one new stuThe team’s bold plan would install a dent, had to come up with a poster preRe-Visitor’s Center ramp from the library’s west side near the sentation of their concept. But that was Brochstein Pavilion to a center floating above the east loggia that just the beginning. They then had to convince a panel of judges would be roomy enough for a permanent, museum-style exhibition that included a cross section of interested parties, including Rice of Rice memorabilia. President David Leebron.



DEEP AXESS X A pavilion in the air. The Rice Visitors Center is formed by its circulation and flexible space through a reinvestigation of the campus’s central axis and the function of pavilions. Rather than producing a visitors center through a solely additive process, Deep Axess embeds, excavates and cuts through Fondren Library and the axial organization of Rice to provide a contemporary, public space.

The second-place Re-Visitor’s Center, designed by graduate students Giorgio Angelini and Duncan White, went even further, cutting a grand, glassed-in archway reflective of the Sallyport all the way through Fondren. “We like Lovett Hall,” they wrote, “and the way its arch reinforces the idea of continuous space down the axis of campus, pulling the trajectory of the tree-lined driveway through into the quad and beyond. Every other central building on campus exists in deference to this axis except for Fondren, which squats contemptuously on it like a block of hard cheese.” The judges were impressed by the creativity on display. “What I like about many of these submissions is that they struggle to find something that is bold and beautiful and yet contextual,” said Leebron at the final roundtable. “RSA students are easy to talk to about a whole range of issues because they’re used to an environment where boldness and change are part of how you think.” The students’ posters are purely an academic exercise and the university is not obligated to act upon any of the ideas presented, but Leebron told them, “That’s how conversations get started.” —Mike Williams

Re-Visitor’s Center

Rice Magazine

No. 9



Exploring the Architecture of Art Of all the three-dimensional arts, installation art partakes most of architectural forms and techniques. Rice Gallery has become renowned for commissioning sitespecific installation art by architects as well as by artists exploring architecture. Along the way, Rice architecture students have been an integral part of the gallery’s program. In addition to working on installations and serving as gallery attendants, architecture students have been essential to a number of projects.

“Architecture is not art and art is not architecture,” said Rice Gallery Director Kim Davenport, “but one of the really great things about our collaborations is that students identify the boundaries of their fields and then cross them. Today we are interested in how disciplines interface — not how they are separated.” In 2002, undergraduate students from the Rice School of Architecture and the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston worked together to realize “Bamboo Roof,” an outdoor installation conceived by noted Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. “Architecture students are our natural collaborators, because they have the conceptual and technical skills we need,” Davenport said. “Ban gave us a concept, but we were told that, in the Japanese tradition, the builders work out many of the details.”


More than 50 students, five architects and two engineers figured out how to transform Ban’s concept for an undulating bamboo canopy into reality. Not only was it a chance for the students to be involved in executing the work of a cutting-edge architect, the exhibition also provided practical experience in group problem solving. In 2006, Davenport asked architects Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues of Ball– Nogues Studio to create a project for Rice Gallery. Ball and Nogues proposed “Rip Curl Canyon,” an undulating landscape created from die-cut pieces of cardboard sandwiched together. “Rice architecture students have incredible initiative and tenacity,” Davenport said. “When Ball and Nogues gave a lecture before the construction, the students were very excited. Two students met with them and

organized a group of volunteer architecture students to help construct the project.” “Rip Curl Canyon” required eight tons of cardboard and three tons of wood and took three weeks to construct. Ball estimated that the effort that went into it was equivalent to that required to build a small house, adding, “I think a lot of the students were very excited to help manifest something that breaks from the mold of typical construction projects.” As a part of “D-17,” Sarah Oppenheimer’s epic installation for fall 2010, Oppenheimer, a Rome Prize winner, led an intensive threeday summer research workshop for eight Rice architecture students. “D-17” was a massive 65-foot aluminum plane that seemingly angled from the Sewall Hall transom window, through the gallery’s glass walls and into the gallery floor. Using physical mockups and computer modeling, the students photographed and analyzed light conditions in the gallery space as well as the reflectivity of the glass walls. “The workshop was a unique opportunity to discuss and to test qualities of space and light,” participant Alice Chai ’08 explained. “These are critical elements we use with every project we study in the architecture school.” Architecture student Ali Naghdali helped

install Oppenheimer’s finished work. “I was completely blown away by the amount of preparation, coordination and physical labor it takes to create a single production,” he said. “I almost feel that working with an artist should be a part of the curriculum for architecture students because you learn how to handle many types of situations.” Summing up the architecture students’ collaboration with Rice Gallery, Sarah Whiting, dean of the School of Architecture, said, “Because installation art is, by definition, a spatial practice, there’s a terrific overlap between what these artists do and what we do as architects.” —Kelly Klaasmeyer


Rice in a Box With Rice’s Centennial Celebration less than two years away, students are finding ways to make their mark throughout the university’s next centennial and at class reunions for years to come. One result is the Student Association’s (SA) archive project, Rice in a Box, designed to collect and store the history of student life at Rice through photographs, T-shirts, programs and other memorabilia. “Rice in a Box will act as the beginning of a documentation of the second century of Rice,” said Selim Sheikh, SA president. “It can lay the foundation for the next centennial by telling Rice history from the student perspective.” The idea is to have residential colleges, student clubs, athletic teams and organizations contribute objects that reflect important events, initiatives and happenings among them. The items will be boxed and stored in the off-campus Fondren Library storage facility. Like time capsules, those boxes might then be opened at class reunions and during other university milestones. Unlike time capsules, Rice in a Box isn’t a one-time project. The Student Association has created a student archive committee to establish procedures and guidelines for making the project sustainable. “We would like to see this continue beyond the next century,” Sheikh said. “The SA feels this could be our contribution to preserving the history of the university.” The committee comprises members of the SA and representatives from each college and the Graduate Student Association as well as Melissa Kean, the Rice centennial historian, as an exofficio member. It is headed by Georgia Lagoudas, SA secretary, and Louise Bentsen, Duncan College senator, with help from Sheikh; John Boles, the William Pettus Hobby Professor of History; and Linda Thrane, vice president for public affairs. “This project has meaning beyond our time here at Rice,” said Lagoudas, a Lovett College junior. “Future alumni will be able to come back during their reunions and remember their activities at Rice.” “I’m a history major,” Bentsen said. “I believe that history matters and that things should be documented and archived for posterity, and I think this student archive project can do that for the Rice community.” The organizers hope that Rice in a Box also will bridge the gap between groups on campus and become an intercollegiate activity that will bring Rice together as a whole. “The student archive project can serve as a step in integrating the colleges, clubs and organizations in a way that no one has done before,” Bentsen said. “Everyone will have a chance to see what other colleges and clubs have been doing and discover new things.” At the end of each academic year, before the box is closed, the SA will host an event where students can come together to remember and learn about all that happened that year. “We want to offer support in creating a common way for all student clubs and organizations to record their history, projects and accomplishments,” Lagoudas said. “So at the end of the year, we hope the entire student body will celebrate the collection and be excited about this unique project.” Lagoudas, Bentsen and Sheikh noted that the Centennial Campaign and Centennial Celebration have already set the tone for the project and encouraged students to get involved. Rice in a Box, they said, is important because it offers students another way to be directly involved in the Centennial Celebration and allows them to establish a new tradition of reflection and history. “The centennial is an important time,” Bentsen said, “when we can reflect on how much Rice has changed over the past 100 years and how it will continue to evolve and develop going into the second century.”

Photos by Michelle Green

“The student archive project can serve as a step in integrating the colleges, clubs and organizations in a way that no one has done before.” —Louise Bentsen

—Jessica Stark

Photo by Lemuel Soh

Rice Magazine

No. 9





Campus Design by

By David W. Leebron

In this issue we celebrate our School of Architecture, which has been a critical part of Rice from its founding. I have to admit that I am in awe of architects and an enthusiast of architecture education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.


he reasons for my awe and enthusiasm are basically the same: the breadth and depth of knowledge that outstanding architects require. They must have a deep appreciation of art and aesthetics and a mastery of the qualities and possibilities of materials. They must understand how spaces affect human interaction as well as the community culture that will affect willingness to make use of the possibilities afforded by the built environment. Architectural planning and design inevitably involve many diverse stakeholders, and the abilities to listen carefully and explain with clarity are critical to architectural success. In short, it’s hard to imagine a discipline that requires its students to master a greater breadth of knowledge, intellectual perspectives and communication skills. My awe and enthusiasm might be perceived as explaining why, at Rice, we seem recently to have had a full-employment act for architects in force: more than $800 million in building construction and landscaping over the past five years. Architecture in this sense also has been central to Rice since its founding. The beauty of architecture and art, from the pyramids of Giza to the flowing forms of Gehry, have inspired us. We have been especially influenced here at Rice by Mediterranean arches and colonnades. Both the beauty and the functionality of our architecture will determine the possibilities of our community: how we interact with each other, how well we teach, how well we learn and how much we derive from our


participation in the community of Rice. A residential college is not, for example, simply a “dorm” (assuredly a fourletter word at Rice). “College” refers both to the building and the community. The building must be designed to serve and foster a particular sense of community. How courtyards, commons (dining halls) and other spaces are sized, landscaped and constructed determine how people interact with each other. Even — maybe especially — the design of hallways and stairways influence the success of the life-changing communities we aspire to create. The BioScience Research Collaborative, both

in location and design, was predicated on the view that physical proximity and the fortuitous interactions that result foster new thinking and advances in knowledge. Architecture is equally central to our goal, included in the Vision for the Second Century, of creating campuswide dynamism and a broader sense of community. We sought to do that in part by constituting the central quadrangle — from Fondren Library toward James A. Baker III Hall and Janice and Robert McNair Hall — as the social center of the campus. Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion is at the heart of that vision. It had

A century ago, a cornerstone was laid for the building that was to become Lovett Hall, and the live oak trees that are the signature of our campus were planted.

to be designed to connect social gathering to campus beauty and to project both welcome and activity onto the campus. Similar goals underlaid the design of the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center. It is wonderful that one can exercise while admiring the beauty of the campus, but the design was as much — perhaps more — determined by our desire to have the activity and community taking place within the center projected to those outside. For more than a century, Rice’s commitment to architectural design — both its beauty and its functionality — has been central to our goals and ambitions. Our founding president, Edgar Odell Lovett, toured the world and brought back concepts that today still greatly influence the look and function of our campus facilities. Rarely does a visitor to our campus not comment on its beauty, which is now being further enhanced by our new campus art program. Now we may be on the cusp of fairly radical change in the nature of both university instruction and the learning community, changes being brought on by the confluence of economic pressures and rapidly improving educational technologies. Major universities are exploring the possibility of providing a significant part of their instruction in online-only format. We are told of students — not at Rice, of course — who wake up in their dorm rooms and flick on their computers to watch a class rather than rolling out of bed to actually attend the class.

The bricks and mortar laid and the trees planted have produced more than buildings and shade. They have created an intellectual and social space where we teach, learn, discover and forge enduring friendships and, yes, sometimes, marriages. Our architecture has played a significant part in shaping our destiny, and I remain in awe of those who created — and are still creating — it. —David Leebron

Our success in the future will, in my view, require continued attention to the physicality of our campus and what that physicality makes possible for the community we have gathered, quite literally, from the far corners of the globe. If we enable our students and professors to achieve and learn through their proximity to each other things they would not be able to do in a virtual environment, then we can be assured that the basic elements that have made the Rice experience extraordinary for the generations before us will be so for the generations that follow. This is not to say that technology will not change Rice. It will assuredly change us fundamentally. But those changes, like our architecture, must be in service of a more humanistic and holistic sense of what it means to be educated and to participate as a community in increasing the understanding of our world. A century ago, a cornerstone was laid for the building that was to become Lovett Hall, and the live oak trees that are the signature of our campus were planted. The bricks and mortar laid and the trees planted have produced more than buildings and shade. They have created an intellectual and social space where we teach, learn, discover and forge enduring friendships and, yes, sometimes, marriages. Our architecture has played a significant part in shaping our destiny, and I remain in awe of those who created — and are still creating — it. It’s a noble endeavor, and we take pride in being both thoughtful consumers and, through our school, creators.

Rice Magazine

No. 9





A Conversation With Sarah Whiting • Dean of the Rice School of Architecture

Sarah Whiting became the new dean of the Rice School of Architecture Jan. 1, 2010. A widely recognized expert on architecture and urbanism, she has published dozens of articles; edited several books; is the series editor of POINT: Essays on Architecture, a new book series published by Princeton University Press; and is the author of the forthcoming book “Superblock City.” As a principal of WW Architecture, co-founded with her husband, Ron Witte, she currently is working on projects for the drama division of the Juilliard School in New York and the Golden House, a private residence in Princeton, N.J. We sat down with Whiting to ask about her interest in architecture, her impressions of Houston and her plans for the Rice School of Architecture. What fuels your interest in architecture?

You’ve only been in Houston for a short while, but has anything stood out to you?

Architecture hits everything that interests me in terms of an intellectual approach to the world: social, economic and political relations and how they happen through space and form. That, to me, is endlessly exciting. But architecture isn’t just space and form writ large; it’s the way that one material meets another material and how that construction has an effect on so many different things. Any decision underlying architecture has innumerable ramifications. And architecture is perfect for someone like me who is nosy and indecisive. It offers an excuse for poking your nose into how the world works, how people work, how relationships are formed by organizational systems, formal systems, infrastructural systems and so forth. And because it’s a generalist field as opposed to a specialist’s one, it’s perfect for someone who’s happily indecisive. Architecture affects or is affected by everything, ranging from film to fiction to global warming.

Houston isn’t predictable urbanism. It’s not a model that exists elsewhere. You could, for example, come here assuming that it’s like Los Angeles, because it’s a Southwest city, a postwar city. But what has been really refreshing is discovering that it doesn’t fit that model and then trying to figure out what kind of model it does offer. For one, Houston has pockets of defi nition. Not isolated neighborhoods — which again is a familiar urban model along the lines of a village — but urban pockets or districts that are singular and big but that lie very close together so that you move among them fairly easily. Rice sits within proximity to the Texas Medical Center, the Museum District, Montrose, Hermann Park, downtown and midtown. The city’s amazing combination of nearness and hugeness is fascinating to me.

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No. 9



You’ve said that Houston is a paradigmatic city of the 21st century. How so?

You’re introducing several curricular initiatives, one of which is “Totalization.” What’s that?

The city has multiple dimensions in terms of size and mobility, and it has a remarkable mix of high speed next to slow speed. When you look at Boston, for example, there’s really no way to put high speed within that city. They buried the artery that had cut part of the city off. But here, the highways just sit on top of an existing city, which creates a superimposition of speeds. When you combine this superimposition with the pockets that aren’t isolated and the overlap of constituencies, you get a truly 21st-century phenomenon. And that’s starkly different from the hierarchies and isolations that happen in most cities, where the centers of power are all extremely defined.

We’re required by the architectural accrediting board to teach what they call a “comprehensive” studio that engages students in all the complexities of an architecture project while still having a research focus. These courses can be problematic for any school of architecture because the extensive list of requirements is impossible to address with one project in one semester. It’s always frustrating for the students and faculty alike. Totalization is our way of dealing with this requirement in a different way. We’ve broken the requirement into four advanced studios, each centered around a specific architectural issue. Each student is in one of the four studios, but they also meet as a group to share information, resources and critiques. Last fall, the four Totalization studios focused on building systems, the building envelope or façade, architectural financing and the issue of the void — that is, how you include open space in a project. It’s very important for students in this advanced course to see examples and also meet with consultants. Thanks to some generous alumni, we were able to send all four studios — 43 students in all — to New York City, where they showed their projects to consultants in mechanical, structural and façade systems, had the opportunity to visit a number of important buildings, and had a terrific reception in the office of one of our alumni on the 25th floor of the Empire State Building. How about some of the other initiatives?

How do Rice architecture students interact with the city, and how might that change? Architecture students everywhere are famous for not getting away from their desks, so getting them out of Anderson Hall, let alone off campus, is an issue. Even so, I think that our students are good at tapping into things that are going on, in part because their classes require them to interact with the city. For example, one of our studios is working on Galveston and has been down there several times already. Aside from encouraging this exploration beyond the hedges through assignments, we also can feed students key information about things that are going on. Part of the problem with the Web is that there’s so much information. It’s partly the faculty’s role to say, “This event, film, opening, etc., is really worth paying attention to.” Is this why you started the Insider Trading series, which is open to the public as well as to faculty, students and alumni? That’s one of the reasons. We’re a small school, and that’s great. We all chat in the halls. But even in a small school, you have to make sure people know what’s going on. Our Insider Trading series is a way to pause and present our own work to each other and share insider knowledge. This semester, four younger faculty members are presenting their research as part of the series. We’re also creating an exhibition wall that will feature faculty and student projects. It’s meant to be an informal series of work-in-progress or conversations — a way to incite moments of exchange.


We’ve introduced a senior capstone course to the major. In the fall, seniors take a seminar on a specific architectural topic that then feeds into a studio that they take in the spring. The sequence covers different topics each year depending on the faculty teaching it. The themed structure provides a framework in which the students can advance their independent research. We’ve also introduced what we call digital media assistants. These are recent graduates who are at the forefront of new digital media technologies and come in one afternoon a week to assist studio faculty and work with students. It’s a much better solution than teaching a separate software class — for one, the software is directly tied to an application, so it’s not abstract; second, it’s a way to keep abreast of the very latest technologies; and third, it’s a way to give our recent graduates some classroom experience while they start working for professional offices in Houston. Travel is obviously part of Totalization. What about other travel opportunities? The School of Architecture offers a number of generous fellowships for independent summer travel, but I’m working to increase travel opportunities that are attached to course work. We teach architecture with slides and by talking in classrooms, but architecture is three dimensional and experiential, so it’s incredibly important for a class to travel as a whole to visit sites and projects. When students travel with others, especially a faculty member, they profit from everyone else’s impressions. Travel enriches and augments what students learn in the classroom, and it also helps students better engage in problems that are global in scope. This spring, the juniors spent a week in Mexico City, as did students in one of the graduate courses. Another graduate studio went to China over spring break, and another went to Los Angeles. The students researched their project sites in all of these locations and also visited important buildings, met with architects and had time to absorb a general cultural understanding. Meanwhile, the school

”If you’re in a university, you should be there because you want to teach. If I were cut off from teaching, I wouldn’t have access to the students, and frankly they’re the ones who are going to change the world.” —Sarah Whiting

maintains a deep commitment to Houston. For example, the Rice Building Workshop [RBW] is forging a relationship with the Menil Collection. Josef Helfenstein, the director of the Menil, was so impressed with the RBW’s ZEROW HOUSE that he asked them to design — and hopefully also construct — a café for the Menil.

really interesting books coming out of the school. It’s one of the ways that Rice is known to the outside world, and that series, in particular, needs to be amped up.

Are public lectures part of your initiatives?

If you’re in a university, you should be there because you want to teach. If I were cut off from teaching, I wouldn’t have access to the students, and frankly they’re the ones who are going to change the world. I want to know what their ideas are. Teaching here has been incredibly satisfying for me.

The public lecture series is very important for me in terms of establishing a forum for a common conversation in the school and also for bringing amazing architectural voices to Houston. An exciting addition to the regular series has been a miniseries, the Cullinan talks, which brings four high-level lecturers to the school each semester. These four talks are part of the public evening series but also are tied to a seminar I’m teaching. The seminar students interview the speakers, and the talks and interviews will be collected into a publication at the end of the year. What’s the Broch n’ Talk? The Broch n’ Talk was a very small initiative, but it’s already been wildly successful and has had a huge impact. The lecturer meets with students at the Brochstein Pavilion for an informal, hour-long, caffeine-fueled conversation prior to the lecture. Any student can go, and they are allowed to ask whatever they want. The speakers have really enjoyed the chance to meet the students, and the students, in turn, feel less intimidated by the speakers. Often the lecturers will refer to the students during their talks and students will ask additional questions in the public Q&A. It’s as if the lecture is just part of a longer conversation that the students are having with the speaker. The Q&A periods have been terrific, and the students understand that the series is like an extra class — that the lectures all add up, forming an important conversation on contemporary architecture. How else would you say we must engage the outside world?

What’s your philosophy on teaching?

Can you describe a great experience you’ve had working with students? Over the years I have published several translations of architectural texts from French to English, and working with students is much like translating from one language to another. On one level, it’s getting a student to realize that architectural thinking is different — that it’s a synthesis, a generalist discipline where you’re thinking in terms of space and form. That’s why I love teaching at the introductory level. There comes a specific moment where they’re not seeing architecture as art history or science or physics or math. They’re beginning to see architecture as its own discipline, and it’s amazing to witness that sudden click. At the other end of the spectrum, I enjoy working with thesis students, which is when you help them forge the confidence to propose original research. At a certain moment, they say something and you think, wow, that’s a really smart idea, or that’s a really provocative question, and that’s when they begin to teach you. That’s what fuels me. Learn more about the Rice School of Architecture and Dean Sarah Whiting: ›› ›

Through publications. Everyone outside of Rice is always surprised that “Architecture at Rice” exists as a series, that there are some

Rice Magazine

No. 9



Revitalizing Lives BY


Architecture and the Third Ward



The legacy of the Rice Building Workshop and Project Row Houses

“I was losing my drive for architecture,” said Kim Neuscheler ’95. “After nearly six years, I didn’t know if it was something I really wanted. Then Danny and Nonya started the Rice Building Workshop.” “Then-Dean Lars Lerup wrote us a brief note in 1995 telling us to start a workshop and get the students into the community doing real projects,” recalled Danny Samuels, professor in the practice of architecture and director of the resulting Rice Building Workshop (RBW). “That was about all he said.” Design/build studios have an honorable tradition in university architecture programs, but Samuels and Nonya Grenader, professor in the practice of architecture and associate director of RBW, set out to make Rice distinctive: They would tackle large, multisemester projects, enrich the community, and involve both undergraduate and graduate students, and everything would be done collaboratively. Unknown to Samuels and Grenader, the story of RBW’s most important collaboration had already begun in 1992, when a young African-American artist named Rick Lowe joined a tour of Houston’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Social Sculpture The neighborhood Lowe was taken with was the Third Ward. “The city had decided that this one area of the Third Ward was the worst and should be torn down,” Lowe said. “It was almost four blocks of dilapidated buildings, vagrants, prostitution and drugs. I agreed at first, but then I began reflecting on the works of John Biggers [an AfricanAmerican artist who lived from 1924 to 2001]. He painted shotgun houses in a way that was interesting to me, and there were 22 shotgun houses on this land. It

was a perfect opportunity to create a living John Biggers painting. This could be the foundation on which we could explore the community.” Lowe tracked down the property owner in Taiwan, arranged a lease/purchase agreement and involved neighborhood volunteers, who turned out in force to clear debris and put a brake on their neighborhood’s decline. Then the property was foreclosed. The ensuing saga drew philanthropists who offered no-interest loans, churches and arts organizations who ‘adopted’ individual houses, and corporate sponsors. By the mid-1990s, Lowe had established Project Row Houses (PRH) as a nonprofit arts organization owning a sizable cleanedup chunk of the Third Ward. He already had renovated 10 shotgun houses for a visiting artist program where artists from all over the world could turn their imaginations loose on a single house for six months. He gave Houston a new kind of walk-in museum of housesized installations. PRH also renovated five more houses for youth education programs. “All these children came by and wanted to help out because there was nothing else going on in the n e i g h b o r h o o d ,” Lowe said, “so we went from an informal mentoring program to a full-out

Nonya Grenader

after-school and summer arts education program.” Today an expanded PRH education program operates from the neighborhood’s Trinity United Methodist Church. PRH renovated the remaining seven shotgun houses for a Young Mothers Residential Program: transitional housing, plus weekly seminars on life-management issues, counseling and community support. One of the first young mothers, Assata Richards, went on to graduate from the University of Houston, get her Ph.D. in sociology from Penn State, teach at the University of Pittsburgh and finally return to Houston, where she now runs the PRH Young Mothers program. “This became a place of transformation,” Richards says. “That’s what art does. You understood that you were supposed to be making something new, and that something was yourself.” Lowe had evolved from a creator of artwork to the sculptor of a community.

Danny Samuels

“Small is the catchword now, but we were doing it back when nobody else was talking about it.” —Danny Samuels

Minds Meeting for the Six-Square House In 1996, Samuels and Grenader needed ideas for a building project they were proposing for Midtown, and Lowe needed ideas for new transitional housing — the stock of old row houses had been used up. “Nonya and I talked with Rick about our project,” Samuels said, “and he suggested we do it in the Third Ward.” Samuels and Grenader set up teams in RBW and assigned each the task of designing an affordable house. Lowe initially had some worries. “Most university design/build programs are not heavy on context,” he said. “But we were trying to do something that would honor and elevate the architecture of the shotgun house, which is a very humble style of architecture. It called for a lot of restraint.” The winning design team, of which Kim Neuscheler was a member, came closest to the PRH image: It talked in the vernacular of the surrounding homes, fitting in with the ‘Biggers principle’ of being open to the community. It would be a small (900 square feet), two-story home with clapboard siding, a pier-and-beam foundation, front and back porches, and a metal roof.


“Small is the catchword now,” Samuels said, “but we were doing it back when nobody else was talking about it.” Another feature would end up playing a vital role in almost all of RBW’s subsequent projects: The Six-Square house would be modular. Each floor would be comprised of six square units, and many modules could be built off-site and assembled on the PRH lot. Neuscheler was ecstatic about her role in the design. Though she graduated before construction started in spring 1997, she couldn’t tear herself away. “I had a full-time job, but I worked on the house every Saturday for two years straight,” Neuscheler said. “I liked the physicality of building it — something may look great on paper, but how it actually gets built may be another story. The workshop inspires students on a different level — you think about things in alternate ways. I got reinvigorated. I finally knew I was doing architecture for a reason, and Danny and Nonya were a big part of helping me get there. Had the program been run by anyone else, the outcome could have been different.” Neuscheler stayed an extra two years in Houston to complete the Six-Square House before moving back to New York, where

she is now a project manager building new health care research facilities and designing smaller residential projects. The Six-Square House continues to make its mark, too: It has been reincarnated, reimaged and reinvented as duplex rental units, not only for Row Houses’ Young Mothers program but also as affordable housing at PRH and in other depressed neighborhoods. “We haven’t worked with any other architects besides RBW,” said Lowe. “Some people say we should branch out, but I think we’re always getting something new and fresh. Everything I know about architecture at Project Row Houses has come from the Rice Building Workshop.”

The XS House If small is good, would smaller be better? Property values in the Third Ward were increasing substantially by 2003, and everyone at PRH and RBW wanted to avoid the fate of the historic Freedman’s Town, leveled by phalanxes of fortified townhomes. What if a house could be built for $25,000 or less? “A lot of the row houses left in the Third Ward were being torn down or neglected,” Grenader said. “We saw the Extra Small House as a viable alternative. We’ve always thought that the row-house model was a gem of sustainability, with porches, cross ventilation and protective overhangs. The size itself has a soft touch on the earth. With the XS House, we wanted to rethink the row house with modern conveniences.” The XS House was completed on budget by Rice students in 2004, and today serves as home to PRH visiting artists. Its central feature led RBW in another new direction. The Core House and ZEROW HOUSE To make the XS House work, RBW had organized the kitchen, bath, storage and mechanical systems into a single sky-lit core that illuminated the rest of the house through translucent walls — the genesis of the core idea. Building on this concept, RBW successfully installed a new core in a gutted PRH shotgun house of 496 square feet. In 2007, a visiting artist moved in, experiencing firsthand the interplay of the historic (walls and ceilings still preserve the markings of

the past) and the modern — the PRH philosophy in a nutshell. Meanwhile, in 2006, a group of Rice students unknown to either Samuels or Grenader got interested in the Solar Decathlon sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Twenty universities from around the world would compete on the Washington, D.C., National Mall for the best solar dwelling. Why shouldn’t Rice be one of them? Most important, these students wanted the subsequent use of the house to be important. And what could be more important than an affordable solar house for PRH? “We admired that idea very much,”

Grenader said. “That was a big part of wanting to take it on. Those students got the grant to do it, and so we were committed. Our solar house would be a model for affordability — that was our unique thing, along with the core approach.” Samuels said, “Normally, the more technology you can pack into a Solar Decathlon house, the more points you win. But our students were asking, ‘What is the minimal amount of technology you can use to make a house with zero net energy consumption?’” During the next two years, more than 80 Rice students — architecture, engineering, Hispanic studies, business school, mathematics, art and more — built the ZEROW HOUSE and transported it and about 40 students to Washington and back for a total of under $300,000, which came mostly from donations. Although ZEROW HOUSE cost less than half as much as the next-cheapest house, Rice walked away with second place in architecture and market viability. “We did incredibly well, considering that we basically thumbed our noses at the competition,” Samuels said. (For more on the ZEROW HOUSE, see Rice Magazine, 2009, Number 4.) Today the ZEROW HOUSE is a striking addition to PRH and another much-sought home for visiting artists. Futures Houston’s revitalized Third Ward stands as testament to John Biggers’ love for AfricanAmerican heritage and Rick Lowe’s vision for the transformative power of art. PRH and RBW have proved that you don’t have to destroy a neighborhood to rebuild it. Now on the PRH drawing boards are a community Laundromat using the old Delia’s Lounge building, and perhaps a grocery store in the old Eldorado Ballroom, where jazz legend B.B. King once performed. RBW is expanding the prefabricated core idea for affordable housing and even an emergency core that could be deployed quickly at disaster sites. RBW also is working with the Menil Collection on a design proposal for a café to be located on their campus. Lowe said that RBW remains inextricably linked with PRH. “As we’ve involved ourselves with building new structures, we’ve learned things about how the community responds to what we’re creating,” he said. “RBW has given us another way of understanding our community.”

Rice Magazine

No. 9



Details, Students

Sweating the Illuminating


Most of us probably think of architects as people who build walls, but Dawn Finley and Mark Wamble don’t consider it possible to build barriers between their work as practicing architects and their duties as faculty members at the Rice School of Architecture. Finley, an associate professor of architecture, and Wamble, a professor in the practice of architecture, are married with two children, and they enjoy the benefits that the juxtaposition of teaching and practice brings to their lives — and their students. Together, they’re a good example of the dynamic attitude residing at Anderson Hall these days. Wamble feels they’ve been successful in meshing academia and their architecture practice, Interloop-Architecture. “We think about it constantly,” he said. “We’re required by both worlds to make sense of it. Dean Sarah Whiting wants to know how our practice contributes to the school, and our clients come to us knowing that we teach, and they expect something more than a quick set of plans that can get permitted by the city and go under construction.” Finley and Wamble build one-of-a-kind projects that show their penchant for taking chances and expanding the language of architecture. For a 1950s-era modern house in Houston, they added a parallelogram-shaped addition with a dizzying amount of interior detail. For another local client, they created a serene yoga studio atop a garage that brings the outside in through a unique window system. Their own sleek dwelling/office, dubbed the 48’ House, is adjacent to the sunken section of Houston’s U.S. Highway 59, standing out to the northbound traffic while sitting back from a residential street full of more traditional domiciles.


In each of those projects, even the tiniest details play large roles in the aesthetic offered by Interloop. Finley and Wamble literally sweat the details, custom manufacturing hardware when stock items just won’t do the job. For instance, an elegant solution to a problem at the yoga studio required locking hinges to raise an exterior curtain of wooden baffles that allow light into the compact space without entirely revealing it. “There was no hardware on the market that made it possible to operate these panels, so we designed a pivot-and-hinge system that allowed the baffles to work,” Wamble said. “We’ve done this kind of thing on almost every project we’ve designed.” Wamble and Finley plan to patent the inspired device and are putting together a company to market it and other pieces of specialized hardware that spring from their creations. “We’re driven by a technical competence that we didn’t realize we were developing,” Wamble said. “Eventually, we got to a point where people were coming to us because we were able to do quite complex things.” Elements of another concept, the Plug-On, appear in a number of their projects. The initial installation, added to the bedroom of a residence in Texas, was a prefabricated 8’ cube that appeared to float above the ground, with a glass enclosure that extended beyond the ceiling and floor. Concealed behind the simplicity was a system of cantilevered beams and counterweights that kept the room in place. Components of the Plug-On are at play in both the parallelogram-shaped addition and the yoga studio, both of which feature dramatic glass walls. Wamble credited James Turrell for his influence on those “zero-edge” walls. Interloop has worked with the famous light artist on several projects, the most prominent being an installation called “Tending, (Blue)” at the Nasher

Sculpture Center in Dallas a few years ago. Wamble’s connections go back further: He took Rice students in his “Light and Color” studio on a weeklong trip to Turrell’s life’s work, Roden Crater, an intricately sculptured meteor crater in Arizona expected to open to the public this year. Turrell has been commissioned to construct a permanent light-and-space installation on the Rice campus this year. “Turrell is dealing with issues of composition, position and light that inherently interest architects,” Finley noted. “It’s hard not to be influenced by him or not have similar sensibilities.” Turrell’s sky spaces allow viewers to appreciate the ever-present but often-ignored beauty of the natural world. “He presents information to your eye that allows you to either better understand how you see things,” Wamble said, “or to realize that the things you’re looking at and the way you’re processing them is largely shaped by the physical elements that frame them.” That appeals to Finley, who went for a similar feel with Interloop’s zero-edge windows, which change the relationship between the indoors and outside. “It’s a pretty incredible effect,” she said. “It’s very subtle, but it transforms the volume and proportion of the space and changes the focus of your eye.” For the parallelogram-shaped addition, zeroedge windows define a cantilevered corner on the second floor, affording a spectacular view to the north and west. Turning around gives a visitor a different view. It takes a few minutes to absorb the fact that every major element — the kitchen table, the sinks, the stair treads and even the drawers — is a parallelogram. “We had an incredible client, a really amazing family,” Finley said. “It’s a fairly substantial addition to a historically significant house in Houston. The house was built in the 1950s by Wilson, Morris, Crain and Anderson, the same architecture firm involved with the Astrodome.” Rather than tear down the house and build anew, the family decided to gut the existing structure and double the space, but in an interesting way. “The interior doesn’t reveal a break,” Finley said. “It doesn’t distinguish, in the floor or the materials, the old from the new — it’s one continuous space. But there’s a shift in the geometry.” “You know something’s askew, literally,” Wamble said. “It’s a deeply conceptual idea about perception, a very subtle shift being a distinction between the old and the new, but with everything else being completely uniform. The clients were committed to an idea that was based in form and perception — something you’d expect more from an artist like Turrell than from an architect, and it provided interesting opportunities for us, as architects, to explore those ideas.” Ideas are at the heart of Finley and Wamble’s work. Another project, the redesign of Julia’s Bistro, a Houston restaurant, drew inspiration from an academic avenue of exploration for Finley — graphics and information design. Interloop was

hired to reconfigure a space for the eatery opening on what was then Houston’s new METRORail line, in an old brick building with narrow slots for windows. “It was,” Wamble recalled, “a mean little room.” On a small budget, the architects opened a corner to light from the street. “The client had little money, and we spent most of it on structural aspects,” Finley said. “Then we used a very intensive interior graphic painting strategy to illuminate and create a kind of glow.” “Basically, all we had at our disposal was light, paint, a couple of new windows and the signage on the outside,” Wamble said. “We ended up fabricating the signage and some of the built-in furniture ourselves.” The team went even further, extending Interloop’s graphic packaging of the space to the menus and the restaurant’s website. “It actually coincided with the development of courses that Dawn has been teaching on representation, format and digital media,” Wamble said. “Rice was one of the first schools to realize that being able to present complex architectural ideas in a very simple and direct fashion is an art. Most schools are limited in what they can talk about by the limits of their graphic skills.” “That applies not only in how you present an idea, but also how you investigate it,” Finley added. “The tools you employ are, quite often, implicit with the kind of techniques you start to develop further in your design ideas. There’s no separation between representing the ideas in a building and the project itself.” Finley continues to feed her love of graphics and representation through a new course in which students track the parallel development of graphics and architecture from the Modernism of the 1950s up to the present day. “It’s important for students to be aware that everything we deal with is visual,” she said, “and to understand the importance of clarity in organizing and communicating information graphically, however basic it might be to the complexity of the issues.” The takeaway message for students is that a passion for detail and a willingness to stretch boundaries matter a great deal. “Within our practice,” Wamble said, “we find it’s essential to take on a few sets of questions that go beyond the economic limitations of the project — not in a way that is irresponsible to the limitations but that go beyond simply providing some ‘product.’” He and Finley believe they have that obligation not only to their clients, but also to the discipline of architecture, and that real-world situations sometimes give way to parameters that are hard to re-create in an academic environment. “I don’t want our students to be lukewarm about it,” Wamble said. “I don’t think we would be satisfied if they left our classes thinking it’s not that important to bring these kinds of disciplinary questions to each project.”

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Working The Rice School of Architecture is more than a platform for teaching a solid background in the art and technology of constructing creative and useful spaces for the future. It also is a think tank and training ground for speculative architects whose ambitions exceed the mere embodiment of analysis. If anything proves this point, it is one of the most intriguing sections of the school’s website: “Working.”

A constantly evolving online archive, “Working” is filled with innovative projects by undergraduate and graduate architecture students who have tackled design problems that address the kinds of challenges communities the world over will face in the century to come. From habitats to commercial buildings to public spaces to landscapes, the projects in “Working” are as conceptually powerful as they are visually arresting. In the following pages, we feature half a dozen projects not yet posted on the website. Look carefully — you just might see these budding architects spearheading real-world projects like this in the near future.






Over the short course of its history, prison typology has enjoyed only minor revisions since Bentham’s Panopticon in 1785. Most of these revisions have been technological in nature and do not address the dichotomy of prison as a deterrent or as a source of rehabilitation. To synthesize both of these goals, the Synopticon incorporates an incentive gradient. Its three levels are punctured by a large core, and entrylevel prisoners are placed farthest from the core. Prisoners who cooperate are moved nearer to the core, into larger cells with greater access to natural light, ventilation and personal freedoms. Liberation from the Synopticon is entirely dependent on the prisoner’s cooperation and graduation through all levels of the system.


Towers of Terroir consists of a grouping of eight towers that house vertical farms and an elevated plinth containing human-occupied spaces such as a café, kitchen and culinary school. The towers are organized into two parts to accommodate different growing conditions: One with low, highly controllable light levels is used to grow mushrooms and edible fungi, and the other contains photosynthetic plants such as vegetables and herbs. The central plinth is very open, consisting of two levels that are held up by the crossing cores that help support the towers and allow foot traffic across the central area. The culinary school is on a half level below, and the dining facility is on the main level.

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The discipline of architecture arguably is becoming subsumed by “sustainability” — an agenda that responds to demand with increased efficiency. How might systems of efficiency instead be leveraged for new modes of collectivity? Displacement Ecologies defines displacement as the occupation of infrastructural voids for collective use and proposes displacement as a formal strategy for leveraging issues of demand. It reappropriates growing energy needs by proposing a pumped storage facility designed of voids, some filled with people and others with water. The physical displacement of water maintains stability of the electrical grid by transferring energy from a moment of surplus to a moment of deficit, and it also increases the city’s collective space.


Central to this design for a museum on the Rice campus titled Center for Contemporary Studies is an exhibition area housing 100 objects, 50 of which represent significant topics or events from the last half century. To create a striking space in which to display these objects, the design utilizes a rounded structure that is sliced to establish an interface for programmatic elements, to develop orientation and to activate a deliberately typologically dormant figure. Functionally, the slices create a front door, a café and a roof terrace. In the interior, smaller figures are introduced to create hierarchy, assist in wayfinding and serve structural roles as they intersect with the exterior figure.


Students Center for Contemporary Studies PROJECT BY RENÉE REDER GRADUATE STUDENT

In considering the diverse ele ments necessary for a Center for Contemporary Studies — a museum of 100 objects on Rice campus — the interest was in creating a design that accommodates several different spaces, each with its own circulation. The public spaces include the entry and exhibition and reception areas. The private spaces include the teaching, administration, visitors and work areas. The semiprivate spaces include the auditorium, library, restrooms and café, and in addition, these are located in proximity to public sections, allowing visitors to view adjacent galleries. The outdoor areas hold pathways between the other museum spaces and form connections to other places on campus.

Academy for the Study and Production of Films PROJECT BY NI “JENNY” ZHAN UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT

Films often are about the passage of time. If we equate movie characters with architectural elements, the change in a person’s personality and manner could be translated into the temporality and growth of architectural surface and space. Academy for the Study and Production of Films choreographs spaces through the layering of materials and spaces and the creation of friction between boundaries and surfaces to achieve a spontaneous yet coherent narrative. The circular periphery engages with the urban setting ambivalently and mysteriously, and the interior, like a narrative film, provides a set of locations and events that help map out the psychogeography of individual visitors through which the physical environment is amplified.

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New NewUrban

Neyran Turan’s words tumble out, one overtaking the last in a rush of ideas that barely coalesce before the next comes along. Topics shift from Rice to Istanbul to her journal at Harvard to her students to her practice to theater and music to ... well, you get the idea.


a good thing Turan has so many outlets — as an assistant professor at the Rice School of Architecture (RSA), as a partner in NEMEstudio, and as a founder and editor of New Geographies, a journal published by the Harvard University Graduate School of Design — because she needs them all. “I know if I just write, it will kill me,” she said. “On the other hand, if I just build, I won’t have time to reflect on what I’m doing or time to challenge myself. I need to be challenged by students or colleagues or the environment I’m in.” Constant striving for new challenges brought Turan to Houston two years ago after graduate studies at Yale and Harvard and undergraduate work in her native Turkey. At Rice, she loves being part of a small, lively community that suits her rapid-fire pace. For students and colleagues, trying to keep up with her is just part of the fun. Turan’s work focuses on contemporary interpretations of scale, infrastructure and ecology and their potential for new ways to interact within architecture and urbanism. “In architecture school,” she said, “we’re very good at doing nice, beautiful things, but sometimes, when you introduce an element, the idea is lost. I’m always intrigued by works that exhibit a certain mode of invention. It can be anything: the purpose of the building, the way it looks, the way it uses space — anything that opens up people’s horizons. That moment of invention happens naturally — it’s not something that’s forced onto the building. Even if you’re not an architect, you should look at the building and say, ‘That’s interesting. I never thought a building could do that.’” In one of her graduate design studios, Turan introduced the idea of the Mundaneum, which is an old word for a world museum of knowledge. The Mundaneum was a project conceived in the 1910s in Belgium, for which Le Corbusier created a design in the 1920s. “While the project was never realized,” Turan said, “it created important debates in architectural history.” Turan asked her students to create a contemporary Mundaneum “that would evoke new ideas in relation to architectural monumentality and public space, while acting as an international center of knowledge in the city.” Students in the studio, taught in


collaboration with Associate Professor of Architecture Farés el-Dahdah, are designing parallel museums for two of the world’s great cities: Istanbul and Brasilia. Great and rapid urbanization in Istanbul was the topic of one of Turan’s earlier design studios at Rice as well as her doctoral dissertation at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Titled “Islands and Voids,” the Rice course proposed new architectural typologies for living and working along the urban edge of Istanbul. “The edge of the city is growing fast, with big-box stores, high-density housing and uncontrolled development. At its edge, Istanbul is becoming generic,” she said with a note of resignation at the inevitable. “It’s ironic that Google maps of the city can’t cope with the speed of its development. It’s hard to criticize efficiency. It’s about capital, and you can’t ignore it as something that doesn’t exist.” The studio investigated efficiency as an architectural problem and speculated on alternative forms of density at multiple sites along the city’s edge. Turan spent her childhood in Istanbul, the city known in ancient times as Byzantium and Constantinople, and her path to architecture was partly defined by an early interest in her surroundings: She grew up near the city-center campus of Istanbul Technical University, which hosts the architecture school. “The building was an old 19th-century barracks,” Turan said. “I used to pass by the building and think, ‘Am I going to be like those architectural students one day?’ There was something strange about the environment of the school that haunted me.” Architecture continued to hold her attention during her early schooling despite flirtations with music (she studied cello) and theater, the highlight of which came in high school when she starred in the leading role of Nellie in an English-language production of “South Pacific.” When she finally went to Istanbul Technical University, her introduction to architecture during orientation at the university came from, of all people, a chef. “He was a famous chef in Turkey — always on TV shows — and he gave one of the opening talks when I started at the school,” Turan said. “We learned at the talk that he actually had a degree in architecture, and we wondered if cooking was just a sideline.

Typologies He said, ‘No, this is what I do. But being educated in architecture teaches you to do what you do well, in terms of orchestration, synthesis and invention.’ I always tell my students there’s a theory that good cooks are always good architects, and vice versa.” Turan became aware of Rice during her undergraduate years in Istanbul. In fact, she was accepted to the RSA graduate program — which some here refuse to let her live down. “Even funnier, when I came here for my first year of teaching, I went to the library to register. They said, ‘Oh, we already have your name in the system.’ We soon realized that the record was from my

the potential of acoustics to rethink the relationship between audience and performer. Another recent design brings the inside out and outside in at a school project, where the buildings are islands in a sea of green space. For Istanbul, the firm has proposed an X-shaped building, EXhall, for a park where architectural space would act as an urban corridor as well as elastic gallery and exhibition spaces. She also values her Harvard-based outlet. While working on her doctoral dissertation, Turan satisfied her exploratory bent by founding New Geographies, an architectural journal that has its

“As much as we think and talk, there needs to be a very precise interaction between doing and thinking and making, and that’s Rice.” —Neyran Turan

graduate admissions. I guess they just assumed I was eventually going to come to Rice.” She landed instead at Yale. “I also considered going to Europe, and I was accepted to some schools there, too,” Turan said. “Even though I was very young, I knew that whatever I decided would define my path. The United States has a significant academic ground that one has to experience if you’re coming from Europe. I find the U.S.–Europe combination in architecture to be very valuable and refreshing; one has to experience both.” A substantial knowledge of your own field is critical to finding one’s way in architecture, she said. “Otherwise, you will go down a predetermined path thinking it’s a new trajectory before somebody tells you that, well, you’re not that ingenious. Or, you will contribute to a body of knowledge unintentionally without knowing where you stand.” She also said that knowing how architecture relates to other disciplines and the way it interacts with the world are paramount. Though her young firm has yet to land a contract, it has been active in competitions and in pitching ideas. “We’d love to meet with that grand client who is interested in architecture and art and will give us the opportunity to further our experiments,” she said. NEMEstudio’s designs include a unique concert hall that explores

fourth volume due in the spring. She was the founding editor-inchief and editor of its first two volumes. Her arrival at Rice was a boon to students planning for PLAT, the RSA-based journal that recently published its second issue, which you can read about elsewhere in this magazine. “Neyran has been a great adviser,” said Sean Billy Kizy, an RSA graduate student and a PLAT founder. “We’ve gone to her for a lot of advice.” Turan likes what she sees in PLAT. “I like that it’s a full student initiative. Nobody told them that it would be nice to have a magazine,” she said. “It also shows what Rice students are capable of. Because of our new dean, the faculty and the range of voices within the school, there’s a lot of energy here. When the scale of an institution is small, even a little light has the ability to flash out and create tremendous impact. As much as we think and talk, there needs to be a very precise interaction between doing and thinking and making, and that’s Rice.” At Harvard, Turan said, members of the architecture community could live and work in the same environment for years and not know each other. “Here, that’s impossible,” she said. “I don’t think there’s another like Rice among architecture schools — small but with such great impact. It’s a very exciting place for a young faculty member to be.”

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Bumping Up the




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Rice biologist Cindy Farach-Carson has a mystery on her hands. She wants to know why slow-growing prostate cancer turns into a fast-growing killer after it moves into bone. It’s a genetic whodunit, and there’s no shortage of suspects. “We have 220,000 genetic sequences that we’ve identified as potentially playing a role, but we don’t know how they work or what they do,” said Farach-Carson, associate vice provost for research and professor of biochemistry, cell biology and bioengineering. “We often joke that each of these is a thesis project for a graduate student, but I don’t have 220,000 graduate students. The reality is that I need computing resources and trained people who can help develop algorithms that can mine this data and find new hypotheses.” Farach-Carson is not alone. Researchers in laboratories the world over are relying more than ever on high-performance computers. It’s a trend that crosses scientific disciplines and presents challenges for universities in hard economic times. Rice has more than 40 times the shared supercomputing capacity it had just six years ago. And it is set to more than double that capacity in 2011 thanks to new grants and gifts totaling almost $13 million. “These machines are expensive, but this is the way science is done today,” said Moshe Vardi, Rice’s Karen Ostrum George Professor in Computational Engineering, professor of computer science and director of the Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology (K2I). “For example, let’s say you want to understand what happens when two galaxies collide. What experiment are you going to do? You don’t have galaxies that you can collide. You use computational experiments.” Even in instances where physical experiments are possible, they often are expensive and time-consuming. With increasingly realistic simulation environments, researchers find it more efficient to run thousands of virtual experiments on a computer, if only to narrow down the range of possibilities that must be explored by hand. While scientific computing has been around for decades, its scope has changed dramatically in recent years. As recently as 2003, there were no shared supercomputing resources at Rice. Each faculty

member had to go it alone — winning grants to buy and maintain their own computers. Jan Odegard ’96, K2I executive director, said he meets with a half-dozen prospective faculty candidates each year to discuss Rice’s shared research computing resources. “We never had these kinds of meetings 10 years ago,” he said, “but today’s faculty candidates don’t want to manage their own systems. The resources we have to offer can be the deciding factor in whether they come here or not.” By all measures, 2010 was a banner year for research computing at Rice. Faculty won two major federal awards for new supercomputers, and IBM donated a machine that doubled capacity in one fell swoop. But the seeds for that success date to 2002, when Rice landed a $1.2 million federal grant for the Rice Terascale Cluster (RTC). When it came online in early 2003, RTC made headlines as the fastest academic supercomputer in the state. But more importantly, RTC was the first supercomputer that would be shared by researchers all over the campus. Two years later, when Kamran Khan arrived at Rice as vice provost for information technology, RTC was pushing Rice’s on-campus data center to its limits. With a brand new federal grant for an even larger system in hand, something had to be done. “One of Rice’s missions in the Vision for the Second Century is raising our research profile, and research computing is crucial for that,” Khan said. “For Rice to remain competitive, we needed a place to house these computers, and we needed people to run them. It was absolutely vital for the V2C, and with the support of the administration and the board of trustees, we obtained the necessary resources.” By mid-2007, Rice had completed the single largest technology upgrade in the university’s history. Virtually every building on campus was rewired for high-speed data networking, and Khan’s team opened a new $16 million data center — with an enormous room called Pod B that is dedicated solely to supercomputers.

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Left to right: Kim Andrews, Jan Odegard, Richard Talbot, Kamran Khan

“We use more bandwidth in Pod B than the entire campus combined times two,” said Kim Andrews ’92, manager of Rice’s research computing group. Andrews and his team of five specialists not only keep Rice supercomputers running, they manage workflow to maximize usage and act as code consultants to streamline and optimize jobs. They even are working on a social media platform that Rice graduate students can use to help share information about tackling tough research challenges. “I was a supercomputing user for many years before I ever got into the administration side, so there’s a lot of empathy for the user,” Andrews said. “We always are looking for ways to make it easier for people to do their research.” From 2004 to 2009, K2I helped Rice faculty win a stream of grants that paid for a new supercomputer every 20 months. These are shared by more than 400 researchers across campus, and thanks to outstanding funding wins in 2010, Pod B is in the midst of a spring building boom. The federal stimulus aided Rice faculty in winning a total of $3.5 million from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health for two new computing systems that are coming online this spring. In addition, Khan and Vivek Sarkar, the E.D. Butcher Chair in Engineering and professor of computer science, spearheaded an effort to secure an IBM donation for Blue BioU, the most powerful supercomputer on campus. Valued at $9.4 million, Blue BioU came online in spring 2010 and is notable in two respects: It was the first computer system in the world to use IBM’s much-anticipated POWER7™ microprocessors, and it was designed to be used by researchers throughout the Texas Medical Center (TMC). “Life sciences research is the major focus of this program,” said Richard Talbot ’79, IBM’s program director for Blue BioU. “We are


“For Rice to remain competitive, we needed a place to house these computers, and we needed people to run them. It was absolutely vital for the V2C, and with the support of the administration and the board of trustees, we obtained the necessary resources.” —Kamran Khan

specifically interested in accelerating the delivery of enhanced treatment options and cures for complex disease processes.” Talbot said IBM has found that collaborative groups of clinicians, scientists and engineers are best suited for solving the sort of problem that Farach-Carson has with her bone cancer data. He said one of IBM’s goals with Blue BioU is to help create the interdisciplinary teams that can solve those problems. “Rice is getting more than just equipment,” Khan said of Blue BioU. “Another of our V2C goals is fostering collaboration, and IBM has committed staff scientists and application engineers to helping us build collaborations within the TMC.” Khan said IBM’s decision to partner with Rice was partly due to Rice’s proven success in research computing in recent years. “Rice faculty members are second to none,” Khan said, “and Kim Andrews and his research computing support group have a level of expertise that most institutions would envy.” For example, most supercomputers run the Linux operating system, and the highest certification a Linux systems administrator can receive is the “architect” designation from Linux vendor Red Hat. “There are only 250 certified Red Hat architects in the world,” Andrews said, “and we have three of them here at Rice.” Like the BioScience Research Collaborative, the Blue BioU computing platform is another tangible sign of Rice’s strengthening ties with the TMC. “When we go over to the medical center and talk to people about what they are most interested in at Rice, computational strength and computational research always top the list,” said Jim Coleman, vice provost for research. “It’s almost impossible for medical institutions to build the kind of programs Rice has in engineering and computer science. They all would love to leverage that.”

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Heart of the Matter

Recipes for Complex Problems

Solving Multifold Problems

Matteo Pasquali is no detective, but he’s stalking America’s biggest killer. More than 5 million Americans have failing hearts, and of the 30,000 that need transplants each year, only about 2,000 receive them.

Robotics and biology may sound about as similar as oil and water, but it all depends on what you’re trying to cook.

Proteins self-assemble in a fraction of the blink of an eye, but simulating even a simplified version of the process with a computer can take weeks.

Pasquali, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of chemistry, is working with Professor Marek Behr from RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, Germany, surgeons at the Texas Heart Institute and Houston-based MicroMed Cardiovascular, Inc., to develop a new pump for an artificial heart. When legendary surgeon Michael DeBakey asked Rice engineering researchers to help him design the world’s first artificial heart 45 years ago, everyone envisioned a device that would beat like a natural heart. But Pasquali said rotary pumps, which move blood continuously, are simpler, cheaper and smaller. “The flow is very complex, and the shape of the pump is complicated,” Pasquali said. “We have to resolve tiny features, and we have to follow the movements of the blood cells in very small increments of time.” For example, the rotors have to spin at about 10,000 rpm, and the rotor blades don’t quite touch the sides of the pump. “In this small space between the edge of the blade and the pump wall,” Pasquali said, “the shear forces are capable of damaging blood cells and platelets.” The researchers also need to make certain the pump doesn’t jostle red blood cells so badly that they loose their grip on oxygen-carrying hemoglobin molecules — a process called hemolysis. Another even more complex problem to model is clot formation. Pasquali said the team’s early computer models helped solve problems related to hemolysis, but Rice supercomputers are now powerful enough that the team is ready to take on questions about clotting, which can be simulated only with very large sets of equations. But this is just the beginning. “Right now we have to run each model and infer how to improve the design,” Pasquali said. “If the computer could automatically change and evolve the shape on the fly, that would be a great tool.”

“An algorithm is like a recipe. It tells you all the steps you have to take in order to solve a problem,” said Lydia Kavraki, the Noah Harding Professor of Computer Science and professor of bioengineering. “The underlying algorithms that we use to solve problems in computational biology and robotics are very similar.” For Kavraki’s group, the common factor is analysis of shape and motion. In biology, her team attempts to decipher molecular function by studying how molecules bend and flex. In robotics, the group plans the moves a robot should make to complete a task, which can range from removing a heavy jet engine from a tight space inside an airplane to executing a common household chore. In both robotics and biology, a key consideration is the “state space” — the full range of shapes or positions that a robot or molecule might take. The group’s specialty is creating novel search algorithms that can probe the “state space” to find motions that are feasible for a particular task or satisfy a set of biological conditions. For example, the group might create an algorithm that narrows down the possible function of a protein molecule, or they may create one that finds the best way to inspect a building with one or more robots. Like a chef refining a recipe, the team employs supercomputers to refine its algorithms. And with the advent of shared computing at Rice, they’ve been able to tackle increasingly complex problems over the past seven years. “The training of our students has improved greatly because of what’s available today,” Kavraki said. “Their experience using shared systems at Rice is easily translatable to other systems, including even larger machines at national laboratories. This is a great value to our students.” —Jade Boyd

“Protein folding is regarded as one of the biggest unsolved problems in biophysics,” said Jianpeng Ma, Rice professor of bioengineering and Lodwick T. Bolin Professor in Biochemistry at Baylor College of Medicine. “This is a technically challenging task. Many groups around the world have competed for years to make the process faster and more accurate.” Ma and Rice graduate student Cheng Zhang pioneered a new method for accurately simulating protein folding. In publishing their findings last year, they showed the method could deliver unprecedented accuracy and speed in simulating the folding of three relatively short but well-understood proteins. Protein folding is a mystery that reaches to the heart of life science because proteins are the workhorses of biology. They’re the enzymes that metabolize food, the building blocks of bone and tissue, the signals transmitted between cells, and more. And when they misfold, they become key players in diseases like Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, emphysema and some cancers. Ma said that the previous state of the art was to run multiple copies of a simulation in parallel on many computers — an intensive and expensive approach. So he and Zhang created a single-copy approach that uses one simulation to find the native folded state of a protein. Zhang and Ma first tested their new approach on a Rice supercomputer called the Shared University Grid, or SUG@R, and they are continuing the work and simulating the folding of longer protein sequences on Rice’s new Blue BioU supercomputer. “I can’t overstate the significance of state-of-the-art computing facilities,” Ma said. “These supercomputer resources continue to make Rice one of the leading institutions in the field of protein folding and computational biophysics.” —Mike Williams

Not Enough Matter in the Universe to Write It Out When it comes to complicated puzzles, Rice chemist Gustavo Scuseria has the mother of all examples. Put 216 hydrogen atoms in a cube, squeeze them together with the force that exists inside a star and then solve the equations for the quantum mechanical “wave function” that will reveal the fate of their electrons. “If you want to calculate the wave function, the equations exist — they’ve been known for 80 years,” said Scuseria, Rice’s Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry and professor of physics and astronomy, “but the number of possible configurations is greater than the number of neutrons, protons and electrons in the entire universe. Even though the equation tells me I can compute the answer, there is not enough matter in the universe to write it out.” That’s the sort of conundrum that quantum chemists like Scuseria face daily. In theory, they have the tools to precisely describe how matter will behave; in practice, they can investigate only simple examples. Since joining Rice in 1989, Scuseria and his students have repeatedly pushed the envelope to bring ever larger and more complex molecules within reach of computational chemistry. They’ve developed mathematical tools and methods that have been incorporated into software that’s used in hundreds of labs worldwide. Scuseria’s efforts have attracted a number of international honors, including the 2010 Feynman Prize in theoretical nanotechnology — one of most prestigious honors in nanotechnology. A prominent example of his nanotechnology research is a 2006 study of graphene in which Scuseria’s team predicted the exact size and shape of graphene nanoribbons that would be needed for particular types of semiconductor applications. The predications proved correct and helped spur interest in graphene, which made the leap to worldwide prominence when its discovery attracted the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics. —Jade Boyd

—Jade Boyd

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No. 9



Artinthe Rice University is known for its distinctive architecture and its canopy of stately trees. Now it also will be known as a setting for major works of public art, thanks to Rice Public Art, a campuswide presidential initiative that brings public art to students, faculty, staff and the Greater Houston community. The recent installation of “paraMuseum: Environmental Exigencies” by Charles Mary Kubricht in the Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion is a beautiful and poetic example of Rice’s commitment to site-specific public art, said University Art Director Molly Hubbard. The four black and white oak leaves on 8-foot panels reflect Kubricht’s conception of natural landscapes as “museums” and their constituent parts as objects worthy of preservation. The artist thinks of the entire Rice campus as a tree museum. Her oak-leaf panels reflect her interest in how humans actively create and measure experience, perception, meaning and the fate of the natural environment. The four oak leaves were selected by the artist from four indigenous oak trees on campus. Printed on canvas, the photographs are coated with a unique, ecofriendly sealant that protects them from UV radiation and other environmental factors. Completely different is Leo Villareal’s “Radiant Pathway,” a light installation in the second-floor café of the BioScience Research Collaborative at University Boulevard and Main Street. The work


pulsates from 7 a.m. until midnight, seven days a week, and is visible from University Boulevard. Light sequences radiating in and out from the center mirror the function of the university as a gathering place for knowledge that is then released back into the larger community. The 92 LED light tubes each have 20 pixels capable of displaying 16 million different colors. The changing light sequences are never repeated, and Villareal composed them on-site using his custom computer software technology. The work, Hubbard said, has launched a new era of public art “outside of the hedges.” In early 2010, Aurora Robson’s “Lift” debuted in Rice’s Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center. The huge spherical sculpture, made of more than 9,000 discarded plastic bottles, is suspended from the ceiling with four smaller satellites surrounding it. “Lift” is a vibrant addition to Rice’s new Recreation Center, Hubbard said, because it creates a sense of the “cosmic and astronomical” among the daily regimen of bench presses and treadmills. The five pieces embody the qualities


of energy, light and dynamism of a solar system and also are associated with the physical activity and recreation occurring in the space itself. The suspended sculptures are engineered with solarpowered lights and motors that provide rotation. In addition to those works, Rice also debuted in 2010 the exhibition “Magnificent Seven: Houston Celebrates Surls,” an installa-

2012. The statue is likely to be placed in front of Keck Hall. And a bronze owl by English artist Geoffrey Dashwood that stands more than 6 feet high will be the focus of a Legacy Garden that also is being designed to coincide with the Centennial Celebration. Rice Public Art is directed by Hubbard and led by the Rice Art Committee, which is chaired by alumnus Raymond Brochstein

The internationally celebrated American artist James Turrell has been commissioned to create a “skyspace,” an experiential work of art that fuses light and space, which will be constructed east of the Shepherd School of Music in 2011. tion of seven large sculptural works by American artist James Surls, across the campus. Two of the sculptures have been purchased to remain a part of Rice’s permanent collection. Also, the internationally celebrated American artist James Turrell has been commissioned to create a “skyspace,” an experiential work of art that fuses light and space, which will be constructed east of the Shepherd School of Music in 2011. Noted American sculptor Bruce Wolfe has been commissioned to create a bronze statue of Edgar Odell Lovett as a commemorative sculpture for Rice’s Centennial Celebration in

’55 and co-chaired by alumna Suzanne Deal Booth ’77. Members include Rice trustees, students, faculty and staff, in addition to community representatives. Funding for the site-specific projects is provided from a new one-half-percent-for-art initiative for new buildings and by philanthropy. —Franz Brotzen

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Justice Served It would be difficult to find a fictional legal thriller as low-key yet as engrossing as “Unbillable Hours: A True Story” (Kaplan Publishing, 2010).

Shadow Ball If Charles Harper Webb ’70 was a rock musician, which he was, then “Shadow Ball: New and Selected Poems” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009), a collection of poetry culled from five of his books of poetry, might be a greatest hits album. It is. With one addition: It also contains a chapter of new work. But new or old, personal or philosophical, each piece seems to wrap inventiveness, humor and touching perception in packages of imagery that any contemporary reader can identify with. And as soon as you do, Webb slyly overturns expectations and delivers a punch straight to the heart. The winner of several major prizes in the last decade, Webb is a professor of English at California State University at Long Beach, where he directs the M.F.A. in creative writing program. —Christopher Dow

A Author Ian Graham ’98 landed a job with a prestigious Los Angeles law firm even before his graduation from law school, and his substantial salary made his future seem bright. But the hectic, sweatshop atmosphere of corporate law left little room for sleep, much less a real life. And then Graham became embroiled in the pro bono case of Mario Rocha, a young Latino man serving a life sentence for murder. Although not the lead attorney on the case, Graham was instrumental in advancing the subsequent four-year investigation and struggle for justice, ultimately not only changing Mario’s life, but Graham’s own. It also would result in an award-winning film, “Mario’s Story,” which aired on Showtime. The book deftly suspends Mario’s legal battle against a backdrop of descriptions of lengthy sessions during which Graham and his associates poured over legal documents in the service of corporate maneuvering. At first glance, those descriptions might seem like dull reading, but Graham uses his own tedium as a sounding board for ruminations on the meaning of justice and how to most effectively serve justice at a broader level. Filled with captivating portraits, “Unbillable Hours” is a riveting look at gang politics, courtroom deceptions and the behind-thescenes drama of big law firms. —Christopher Dow

And Now, Your Forecast Sometimes we praise them, and sometimes we scorn them, but when they speak, we always pay attention. No, they’re not priests, politicians or pundits. They’re the nation’s weathercasters, and they’re so ubiquitous in the media that they seem to have been scattered across the country by strong winds. The he uniquely American phenomenon of the weathercaster is a child of the age of television, and now its history has been captured in “Weather on the Air: A History of Broadcast Meteorology” (American Meteorology Society, 2010) by Robert Henson ’81. Henson, a science writer at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, delves into the roots of American meteorology, from the meticulous records kept by George Washington through the establishment of the National Weather Service and the primitive radio weather announcements in the decades prior to the advent of television. The majority of the book, however, is devoted to the post-World War II development of the many now-familiar elements of television weathercasting, including the personalities who make TV weather reports as entertaining as they are essential, the “weathergirl” craze, advances in high-tech weather graphics and the establishment of major media weather services. Henson’s engaging and often amusing history will appeal to anyone interested in the weather or the history of television and broadcast journalism, and its many photographs and numerous anecdotes only add to its temperate look at an often turbulent industry. —Christopher Dow




A Hidden Piece of Houston’s History A rich historical record detailing the final resting place for many of the Houston region’s civic leaders and influential figures, “Houston’s Silent Garden: Glenwood Cemetery, 1871–2009” (Texas A&M University Press, 2010) chronicles the development of this charming wooded and beautifully landscaped cemetery. Authors Joanne Seale Wilson ’60 and Suzanne Turner bring their educational Authors and professional experience to bear in revealing the story of this landmark. Wilson, a Houston resident, earned her B.A. in history at Rice and her master’s degree in architectural history and historic preservation from the University of Virginia. She is the author of several publications on horticulture and landscaping. Turner is professor emeritus of the School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University. The story is enhanced by the photography of Paul Hester, lecturer in Rice’s Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts, whose photographs of art and architecture have appeared in many publications and exhibitions. Hester received his B.A. in fine arts from Rice in 1971. The book seamlessly integrates Hester’s modern photographs with historical images and cemetery plans to fully illustrate the history of the site. The photographs also allow readers to get a sampling of the stunning monuments in the cemetery, which are themselves examples of fine art by many noteworthy sculptors. The significance of Glenwood is all the more evident as the authors detail its background as Texas’ first garden cemetery — it broke the mold in this region. “To emphasize how singular Glenwood was,” wrote the authors, “it is illuminating to note how few other cemeteries in Texas and nearby Louisiana settings are comparable in their layout, landscape development and atmosphere.” More then just a book about the cemetery itself, “Houston’s Silent Garden” contains a plethora of information about the area’s history and how urban planning prompted the establishment of the site and helped the city evolve into the metropolis it has become. —Jenny West Rozelle

“War and the Environment: Military Destruction in the Modern Age,” by Charles Closmann ’79 (Texas A&M University Press, 2009)

“Mathematics for Neuroscientists,” by Steven James Cox, professor of computational and applied mathematics, and Fabrizio Gabbiani, adjunct assistant professor of computational and applied mathematics, both at Rice (Academic Press, 2010)

“Justice Perverted,” by Charles Wilbur Yates ’62 and Beatrice Dee Sapp ’78 (writing as Dee Wilbur) (Comfort Publishing Services, LLC, 2009)

“Biomedical Engineering for Global Health,” by Rebecca Richards-Kortum, the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

“Handbook of Statistical Analysis and Data Mining Applications,” by John Elder IV ’83, Robert Nisbet and Gary Miner (Academic Press, 2009)

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No. 9



A Year Older, a Year Better BY CASEY MICHEL

As the final game of the 2010 season began, the Owls knew they would be playing for little more than pride on the line. A few razorthin losses meant that, for the second year in a row, Rice’s season would end not with a bowl game but in a regular-season contest, this time against the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The first three quarters of that final contest served as a microcosm for the entire season. Dropped passes. Broken assignments. Missed tackles. But the Owls hung on, and with only five minutes left, they only trailed the Blazers — who were coming off of a 31–15 win against the University of Memphis a week before — by a score of 23–21. Rice sat on its own 35-yard line, with senior receiver Patrick Randolph and junior receiver Tyler Smith, two of the offense’s most potent weapons, flanking either side. But this drive would belong to the newcomers. Sophomore standout Sam McGuffie began the drive with a four-yard run. Freshman quarterback Taylor McHargue, in only his third game starting for the Blue and Gray, then completed a six-yard pass for the first down. As the next four minutes wound down, the combination of McGuffie and McHargue — each adept with both feet and hands — would put the Owls at the Blazers’ 22-yard line. Then, with only 51 seconds left on the clock, McHargue took a few steps back, handed the ball to fellow freshman Jeremy Eddington, and watched his teammate take it in for his team-leading 10th touchdown of the year. When the clock ran out, and as the


season came to a close, Rice stood on top, 28–23. “That win was critical,” head coach David Bailiff said. “UAB was a good football team, and this win gave these young men a chance to really believe that we’ve got an excellent opportunity to be a really good

football team this coming season.” The 2010 season may not earn a spot in the annals of Rice football history — even with the win over UAB, the squad finished with a 4–8 record, going 3–5 in Conference USA — but the stunning turnaround against the Blazers helped highlight some of the promising harbingers for the program’s future. Take the first game of the season. Playing then-fifth-ranked University of Texas at Reliant Stadium, the Owls drew first blood with a first-quarter field goal. While the second quarter saw the Longhorns come roaring back with 24 points, Texas only managed a 34–17 win, a far cry from its 52–10 win in 2008. The next week, Rice took to the road to face the University of North Texas, an upand-coming program, and toughed out a 32–31 victory. Unfortunately, that win would be the last the Owls would achieve for more than a month, suffering defeats to Baylor and Northwestern and seeing their 10-game home winning streak against SMU come to an end. Despite the struggles, though, there was one game, right in the middle of the season, that the entire team was thinking about. The University of Houston was set to come to Rice Stadium, carrying with it the Bayou Bucket that the Cougars had won in a 73–14 victory in 2009. “Last year, the Cougars scored 73 points on us and blew us out,” senior defensive end Kramer Lucio said. “That loss was on our minds all last season, through workouts and the summer. Going into this year’s game, we hadn’t been playing very well, and we didn’t want to get embarrassed again. We wanted to come out strong.” Taking the field in front of a vocal homecoming crowd, the Owls burst out of the gates for a 27–14 lead going into halftime. A 14-point third quarter put the Cougars back in the lead, but a 13-yard touchdown catch by sophomore Vance McDonald with 4:24 left sealed Rice’s 34–31 win, bringing the Bayou Bucket back to Rice. That win proved to be something of a turning point for the season. While the squad dropped the next two contests, they nearly pulled out a stunning comefrom-behind road win against Tulane University, only to see the Green Wave score the go-ahead touchdown with 1:46 left in the game. The Owls showed their resilience in a 62–38 win against East Carolina University in the next game. That contest demonstrated just how much firepower the Rice offense contained: Eddington tied a school record with four touchdowns, and the squad registered 639 total yards,


the fourth-best in the program’s history. This win set the stage for the season’s final contest against the Blazers and helped propel the squad into the postseason with more momentum than it’s had in some time. Senior kicker Brandon Yelovich, a fouryear letterman with the squad, said that the hardships of 2009 — a season that saw the Owls go only 2–10 — helped harden and teach this year’s team. “We got a year older, a year better, a year wiser,” Yelovich said. “We had a very young team the year before — this year’s veterans were a bunch of first-year players last year — so having that experience definitely helped.” Bailiff agreed with Yelovich, citing experience and a newfound depth as the main factors of improvement. “The biggest difference between 2009 and 2010 was that we had younger players who had to step in after some significant injuries,” he said. “Because we began to develop some depth, we had players able to step in when needed, so those injuries weren’t as catastrophic as in the past.”

“The biggest difference between 2009 and 2010 was that we had younger players who had to step in after some significant injuries. Because we began to develop some depth, we had players able to step in when needed, so those injuries weren’t as catastrophic as in the past.” — David Bailiff


the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) All-America team, the first Owl so honored since Trevor Cobb in 1991. Perhaps most important, however, is the return of Rice’s main offensive weapons, the tandem of Eddington and McGuffie. In his first season with the Owls, McGuffie — who had to sit out the 2009 season after transferring from the University of Michigan — quickly became one of the most promising running backs Rice had seen in some time, bullying his way to 73.6 yards per game and six touchdowns in the season. Eddington’s touchdown total ranked him seventh in the nation among freshman backs. While he knew these backs would help the team, Bailiff said he didn’t realize they would be quite this effective. “We knew that Jeremy was going to be good, but nobody expected him to average more than six yards a carry,” Bailiff said. “And Sam had just not played in a long while, so he felt a lot of pressure to live up to what people expected of him. As he grew and had a better understanding of what we were

Bayou Bucket returns to Rice

Questions still linger for the 2011 season. Offensive coordinator David Beaty, widely credited with steering Rice’s potent offense this season, left the program after only one year to become the wide receivers coach with the University of Kansas. He will be replaced by John Reagan, who spent the last five years coaching both the offensive line and the running game for the Jayhawks. In addition, 18 seniors graduated from the program, including defensive end Cheta Ozougwu, who was selected to play in the 86th East-West Shrine Game.

However, those questions can be mitigated by the talent returning to Rice, among them sophomores Luke Willson and Vance McDonald, who led the team in receiving with 425 and 396 yards, respectively. Every member of the quarterbacks corps — including junior Nick Fanuzzi, sophomore Taylor Cook and freshman McHargue — also will be back, contributing a depth almost unparalleled in the conference. Junior Kyle Martens also will bring his punting prowess back to the gridiron. The South Dakota native, who set a Rice record with 46 yards per punt — good for fifth in the nation — was named to

trying to do, his production went way up.” Despite the sub-.500 record on the season, the team can take pride in the fact that the program has earned an honor that few programs have ever known. On Dec. 8, 2010, the AFCA named Rice co-recipients, along with Northwestern University, of the 2010 Academic Achievement Award. The award is the first in the history of Rice’s program, bestowed because of its 100 percent graduation rate for football student–athletes who matriculated in 2003.

Rice Magazine

No. 9





Baseball in the Blood When Matthew Reckling was a senior at Houston’s Kinkaid High School, his feats on the pitching mound, as well as his academic success, drew the attention of top schools in the region. But when Rice expressed interest in bringing him aboard, Reckling hesitated. Playing for the Owls had been a lifelong dream, but one thing was holding him back: Reckling Park.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to take on everything surrounding my name, but I thought that it was a huge blessing for me to get the opportunity to play for the Owls.” — Matthew Reckling

As it happened, Reckling, now a junior, is the grandson of Tommy Reckling ’54, for whom Rice’s stadium is named. Despite his talents, Reckling was afraid many would immediately assume he was only on the team because of his relation to Tommy. “He came in here with a lot of pressure on him due to his name,” head coach Wayne Graham said. “He also came in here with no sense of entitlement. But he put a lot of pressure on himself, because he wanted to prove he belonged.” Fortunately, Reckling’s last name didn’t deter him from joining the team. But there was something of a chip on his shoulder, a desire to prove his detractors wrong. Despite that pressure, and despite his relative newness to the mound — he had become a pitcher only in his final year at Kinkaid — he posted 34 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched, becoming an important cog on the pitching staff. But a subpar sophomore season — including a 6.32 ERA and 11 walks in only 15.2 innings pitched — sent Reckling back to the drawing board. “Last year I was a mess,” he said. “I was pretty much surviving what you would call ‘stuff.’ I wasn’t much of a pitcher.” With his coaches pinpointing and correcting flaws in his mechanics, Reckling spent the summer trying to fulfill the promise he showed during his successful freshman campaign. He’d always been what Graham termed a “recoiler” — instead of continuing his forward arm motion, Reckling would snap his right arm back after releasing his pitch. Not only did this result in wildness on the mound, but it probably would cause arm troubles down the road. However, if his numbers during fall ball are any indication, his recoiling is a thing of the past. Reckling dominated his teammates with

a 1.44 ERA — best on the team — and has set his sights on becoming one of the pitching staff’s anchors. “In the fall, I saw my velocity jump, and I began throwing a lot of strikes,” he said. “Everything we worked on over the summer finally clicked.” Reckling is set to see his numbers jump significantly now that the 2011 season is under way, which is good news for his grandfather. Despite being drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers out of high school, Tommy Reckling, who still attends most of Rice’s home games, decided to play baseball for the Owls from 1952 until 1954 and forge a career in the Houston community. When Rice’s athletics department decided that a new baseball facility was necessary, Tommy Reckling stepped forward and offered his assistance. “My grandfather is probably the most humble guy in the world,” Reckling said. “He’s obviously done well, but he still drives an old Honda minivan.” Tommy Reckling refrains from giving too many pointers to his grandson, leaving the coaching to Graham and his staff. But he still speaks with Reckling after the games, discussing strategies, offering advice and sharing a passion for the game that has transferred from one generation to the next. So while Reckling may still feel the need to prove his worth, he feels nothing but pride when he steps on the mound, grips the baseball and sees his name scrawled on the stadium’s scoreboard. “I didn’t know if I wanted to take on everything surrounding my name, but I thought that it was a huge blessing for me to get the opportunity to play for the Owls,” Reckling said. “My parents and grandparents appreciated it, and there’s no better place than Rice.” —Casey Michel



Linked for Life: One Couple’s Journey Back to Rice and Houston Bert ’55 and Ann Bordovsky Link ’56

“I announced my retirement to then-President Norman Hackerman in the exact same conference room where I first raised my right hand to go into the Army.” —Bert Link ’55

Bert ’55 and Ann Bordovsky Link ’56 remember vividly their days at the Rice Institute: knowing almost every student by name, attending ArchiArts and meeting each other for the first time in the library — or was it at the Rice–UT football game? They’re still ironing out the details, they joke, but they remain serious about staying connected to Rice. After graduating, the Links spent 11 of 22 Army years abroad in Korea, Vietnam and Germany. They returned to Houston for Bert’s final assignment in the Army Corps of Engineers: to head Rice’s Army ROTC. “We made a big circle,” Ann said. “We just stopped in a few countries along the way.” Back in Houston, Bert began a 22-year civil engineering career and was named Texas’ Engineer of the Year, while Ann’s efforts earned her the Volunteer of the Year award from the Institute of International Education. Today, you’ll find few Owls more enthusiastic about supporting Rice. In recent years, the Links have made qualified charitable IRA distributions to fund Rice Annual Fund scholarships. “Even when I was a young lieutenant without a lot of money, we would give Rice what we could,” Bert said. “It’s not an individual attitude, but a cultural attitude of giving for our generation.”

[ Creative Giving Tip: IRA Charitable Rollover ] Recently extended through 2011, individuals 70½ and older can transfer up to $100,000 per year from an IRA to a public charity without having to count the gift as taxable income.

To learn more about making a charitable rollover in support of Rice's Centennial Campaign, please contact the Office of Gift Planning. Phone: 713-348-4624



Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Permit #7549 Houston, Texas

Rice University Creative Services–MS 95 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892

Celebrating 100 Years Y of Lovett Hall

It’s not often that people sing “Happy Birthday” to a building, but in early March, a crowd gathered in front of the university’s first building, Lovett Hall, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the laying of its cornerstone. See story on Page 3.

Profile for Rice University

Rice Magazine Issue 9  

Rice Magazine is published by the Office of Public Affairs of Rice University and is sent to university alumni, faculty, staff, graduate stu...

Rice Magazine Issue 9  

Rice Magazine is published by the Office of Public Affairs of Rice University and is sent to university alumni, faculty, staff, graduate stu...