Keith-Wiess Geology Laboratory Building

Rice University
  • Architect
  • Year Built
  • Building Type
  • Neighborhood
    Rice University
  • Quadrant
  • Status
    Still With Us

George Pierce and Abel B. Pierce, both Rice graduates, designed a number of buildings for their alma mater. The most interesting was the Nuclear Research Laboratory of 1952 which was demolished in to make way for the outlandish Duncan Hall of 1996 designed by British post-modern architect John Outram.

According to Stephen Fox, the Keith-Wiess Geology Laboratory Building dealt imaginatively with the problem of integrating modern architecture with the precepts of the General Plan for Rice University by Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson of 1910. They incorporated a modernist version of cloisters in the open-air, south facing access galleries, served by open-air stair towers…Although the geology building, and the Pierce`s companion design for the M. D. Anderson Biological Laboratories, were the first general classroom and laboratory buildings at Rice with central air-conditioning, Pierce-Pierce configured them to work with the prevailing breeze and to enhance microclimates that invited the casual use of adjacent outdoor spaces.

The current generation`s refusal to accept any climatic discomfort has resulted in the buildings` alteration. Now all the open galleries and stairs have been glassed in.