SCUP/AIA-CAE Excellence in Architecture for a New Building,
Rice University for Brockman Hall for Physics with Kieran Timberlake
Brockman Hall for Physics brings together experimental and computational physicists from five separate buildings, and unifies their cultures within a single open and collaborative setting. The challenge was to fit the laboratory program into a constrained site that would support research experiments, accommodate advancements in technology, and attract researchers and students. It needed to be architecturally inspiring, respond to the rich tradition of campus buildings, and reduce energy demand.
The result was a principally glass building with glass-enclosed bridges connecting the laboratory bar to the office bar, with literal and educational transparency. The two bars were uniquely arranged to knit the building into the landscape. Each façade is tuned to its solar conditions and adjacency to other buildings, minimizing the building’s volume and allowing natural light to enter.
The project balanced the essential qualities of building on a one hundred year old campus with the rapid pace of change in frontier physics research. Building infrastructure and systems were positioned to serve leading edge researchers and accommodate developments in the field.
The jury commented, “ . . . beautifully detailed and beautifully done . . . there is poetry to the building . . . they figured out what to do and did it right . . . detail works well with campus plan and is sensitive to what is all around it . . . what it does for the campus is great . . .”
The building also had to maintain the building-to-landscape relationships characteristic of the campus plan. By lifting the offices and collaborative spaces program above the landscape, literally into the trees, the remade science quadrangle is preserved with views and pathways to adjacent buildings.
“Brockman Hall realizes aspirations of more than a decade for a facility that would provide the fundamental elements—low vibration, narrow temperature and humidity control, clean power—for 21st century research at the boundaries of physics. This new space fulfills these critical elements so important for discovery, and it provides the template for construction. It enriches the campus both in terms of the research enterprise and our architectural palette,” says Kathy Matthews, professor and dean.
Project Team: Rice University for Brockman Hall with Kieran Timberlake; also Linbeck; Gilbane Building Company; Haynes Whaley Associates; CCRD Partners; Innovate Lab Systems Design; The Office of James Burnett; JE Acoustics; Walter P. Moore; Ulrich Engineers, Inc.; Jackson & Ryan Architects; ARUP; Wilson Consulting, Inc.; Working Buildings; Rolf Jensen & Associates, Inc.; ASSA ABLOY; Fred Langford Architect