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The East Servery, Rice University

Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company

Project Name

The East Servery, Rice University

Project Status


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Project Description


The new East Servery is the most recent piece of Rice University’s implementation of the South Residential Campus Master Plan, a larger project that includes renovations and additions to its signature residential college system on its historic campus.

The East Servery replaces two outdated and inefficient kitchen and servery facilities at the convergence of Will Rice and Lovett Colleges currently, and Sid Richardson College in the future. It serves as a beacon for residents, day and evening, as they gather to select meal choices, then return to their respective college dining commons to eat.

The servery is designed as a large transparent volume that emphasizes the connection and dialogue with the surrounding colleges and the Oak Grove. It incorporates three-dimensional steel trusses supported on slender circular pipe columns. Each component and connection of the system was designed to be beautiful and to ensure proper fit and simplicity of construction. A solid maple boarded ceiling and wall panels fit between the steel structural members. The building’s glazed façades are screened by horizontal louvers for sun-shading and are topped by a shallow-pitched, weathered-zinc roof, which helps relate the modern form to the surrounding historic campus.

The contrast between the slender structure and the warm, solid, light-colored maple creates a sharp and modern space that connects to the green oak grove by day and glows like a lantern at night. Aesthetically, the more modern forms and restrained materials palate provide visual interest without shock and disharmony. Most materials are self-finished, durable, and will require little maintenance as they age with dignity over time. The steel structure is painted with metallic content paint, and all connections are individually detailed to be coherent across the various conditions.

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