Rice Architecture breaks ground on its Karamuk Kuo–designed William T. Cannady Hall

Brick Meets Terra-Cotta

Rice Architecture breaks ground on its Karamuk Kuo–designed William T. Cannady Hall

The north facade of Rice Architecture’s William T. Cannady Hall incorporates a two-story, glassed-in gallery that faces the main Loop Road at Rice University. (Karamuk Kuo/Rice Architecture)

More than three years after it was first announced, Rice Architecture at Rice University in Houston has broken ground on its new William T. Cannady Hall, a 22,000-square-foot building that will rise directly across from—and be connected via an elevated walkway to—the school’s longtime home, M.D. Anderson Hall.

The expansion has been designed by the Zurich, Switzerland–based architecture practice Karamuk Kuo, led by Jeannette Kuo and Ünal Karamuk. The hall is the office’s first built project in the United States.

Featuring a two-story public gallery, flexible teaching spaces, and a dedicated digital technology and fabrication shop complete with a double-height installation area, the glass- and terra-cotta–clad building is conceived of as an expansion of Rice Architecture’s current home, M.D. Anderson Hall. The original building, designed by Staub & Rather and completed in 1947, faces the main quad of the university. A 1981 addition led by James Stirling as Stirling and Wilford added two large presentation spaces and a second wing of offices and studios.

a terra-cotta–clad extension to a brick building at Rice University
The terra-cotta–clad extension occupies part of an open lawn adjacent to M.D. Anderson Hall and the university’s Fondren Library. (Karamuk Kuo/Rice Architecture)

Rice Architecture’s expansion was tentatively slated to break ground in June 2020 but the project encountered delays; it’s now slated to open in fall 2023. Linbeck Group, a company that has built other buildings on Rice’s campus, is serving as the project’s general contractor.

The expansion was first revealed in April 2019 by former Rice Architecture dean Sarah Whiting (now dean at the Harvard GSD) following the retirement of the new building’s namesake lead donor, much-beloved professor emeritus of architecture William T. Cannady. After ending his impressive, decades-spanning teaching career at Rice that first began in 1964, Cannady promptly unretired and transitioned into the role of adjunct professor at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, where he currently teaches courses on real estate management.

“I am pragmatic and I believe steps can be taken to achieve your life’s vision,” said 85-year-old Cannady during a September 15 groundbreaking ceremony. “I’ve tried to build my life based on workable activities in architecture, construction and teaching the fundamentals of designing and building in the real world. I’m blessed to have loved my career.”

“I made this contribution because I didn’t want to be known only by my possessions,” Cannady added. “I made the gift to be useful and to belong to something more important than myself.”

In in addition to his 55-year-plus years teaching at Rice, Cannady is a founding member of Rice Design Alliance (RDA) and has served on multiple committees including the University Transportation and Parking Committee and Rice University Athletic Committee. In 2010, the Houston chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded Cannady with its Educator of the Year Award. Cannady, a native Houstonian, established his namesake architectural practice in the city in 1972.

In a statement, Whiting’s successor, William Ward Watkin Dean of Rice Architecture Igor Marjanović described the forthcoming, Karamuk Kuo–designed building that will bear Cannady’s name as being “aspirational,” adding: “It’s not meant to be a traditional office space, or even classroom space. It’s really designed as an open, collaborative space for faculty and students to work on new forms of design research.”

“There’s lots of transparency, lots of openness to make the work of the school more visible to the wider community, including through a new public gallery for architectural drawings and works on paper, bringing together our highest aspirations for research and outreach within this singular new building,” Marjanović said.

a brick plaza in front of a new terra-cotta building
The east facade of William T. Cannady Hall faces Smith Courtyard and the existing M.D. Anderson Hall. (Karamuk Kuo/Rice Architecture)

Prior to this commission, Karamuk Kuo’s prior stateside engagement was an installation, Infinitely Intimate, realized for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial curated by Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee. In Switzerland, completed projects include House on a Slope in Zollikon (2017), Cham Apartments in Cham (2016), Weiden Secondary School and Gym in Rapperswill-Jana (2013), and Kindergaren Aardof in Aardof (2010). Kuo is currently Professor in Architecture and Building Construction in the TUM School of Engineering and Design at the Technical University of Munich. Previously she was Assistant Professor in Practice at the Harvard GSD.

In an interview published in RDA’s Cite magazine, Kuo shared that “the greatest challenge was how to add onto part of the historical quad of the campus while recognizing that the scale and function of the activities in Cannady Hall are very different from all that is around it.” She added that the sawtooth roof is a nod to the fabrication that will take place within and that its form breaks down “the scale of the building and its effect on the site so that the building remains respectful of the context while having its own expression. Most importantly Cannady Hall and Anderson Hall will function as one integrated culture for the school.”

We’ll circle back once Rice Architecture’s new building nears completion.