A key element of the “Vision for the Second Century” strategic plan, the Brochstein Pavilion has transformed 15,000 SF of unstructured, underutilized quadrangle into the center of student activity on Rice University’s campus. Originally on the main axis of Cram Goodhue and Ferguson’s 1910 Beaux-Arts campus plan, this quadrangle was cut off by the addition of the Fondren Library in the 1940s. When the university challenged the design team to create an iconic campus landmark here, Thomas Phifer and Partners and OJB Landscape Architecture proposed a 6,000 SF pavilion and a series of flexible garden rooms that reinvigorated this space and reconnected it with the greater campus.
Meticulously detailed and unpretentious, the transparency of the 6,000-SF glass, steel, and aluminum pavilion offers a sublime contrast to the surrounding architecture. The 10,000 SF concrete plaza surrounding the pavilion is sandblasted and scored in a simple geometric pattern that references the structural grid of the building.
New concrete walks and a row of specimen live oaks reinforce the existing spatial framework of the quadrangle to the west. To the east, a grid of specimen elms rises from a plane of decomposed granite and provides an organizational framework for two garden rooms that humanize the scale of the library. Long black concrete fountains occupy the center of each space, filling the garden with sound and reflected light. Movable furniture and subtle site lighting allow impromptu gatherings of visitors to enjoy the oasis created by the dense shade and running water.