A Skyspace in Houston

Turrell’s enclosure can be entered by two aligned portals that recall the similar incision-into-hillside detail at the Tomb of Agamemnon in Mycenae.

Turrell’s skyspace for Rice is the first to be engineered for acoustics, with 12 speakers built into the structure’s plaster walls to facilitate performances by students from the university’s Shepherd School of Music and Rice Electroacoustic Music Labs. The space’s two viewing levels could serve as listening stations for sound installations or other kinds of auditory performances.

The 7-foot-wide channel at the top of the berm walls affords dramatic views of the skylight and Rice’s campus. The pew-like seating in the upper viewing area has the feel of balcony seating in a theater. And even though the upper deck stands at just 9 feet above grade, the view from about 14 feet above grade is theatrical for the superflat Houston landscape.

The skyspace at Rice features programmed light shows twice per day—at dawn and dusk.

The skyspace at Rice features programmed light shows twice per day—at dawn and dusk.

The skyspace at Rice features programmed light shows twice per day—at dawn and dusk.

The skyspace at Rice features programmed light shows twice per day—at dawn and dusk.

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