Rice University – Martel, Brown & Jones Colleges

Houston, Texas

Transforming the residential North Campus into a vibrant community

Houston, Texas

Completion Date

202,170 SF, 724 beds
Martel College 107,032 SF (new. 232 beds)
Martel College Master’s House, 4,590 SF (new)
Brown College 34,557 SF (addition, 56 beds), 245 beds
Jones College 26,330 SF (addition, 44 beds)
Jones College Master’s House 4,539 SF (new)
North kitchen & servery 25,122 SF

Project Type
New Construction, Renovation, Expansion, Student Residence, Single-Family Masters Houses, Food Service, Study Center

Professional Credits
Associate Architect: PGAL

Martel College

Brown College

Jones College

Creating community on campus

The design team designed Martel College and the additions to Brown and Jones Colleges in the North Campus to enhance students’ sense of community by arranging the buildings, their common spaces and covered passageways around interconnected outdoor courtyards. The courtyards are comfortably scaled for recreational activities and continue the pattern of buildings and open space established in the 1910 Cram-Goodhue plan of the historic campus.  The new architecture of the North Campus relates to the scale, materials and patterns of the original campus without replicating the specific style. We varied the character of the three colleges and their dining commons to reinforce their individuality.    

Martel College

The student living and learning experience

Jones College

The Rice residential college system is central to undergraduate students’ living, learning and social experience. The colleges are mixed-use, with dormitory rooms, lounges, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, classrooms, a library, dining, and master’s house.  Residential suites are typically four-and six-bed units with only a few singles and doubles. Bedrooms are arranged around common living spaces that open onto exterior passageways  overlooking the courtyards. The plan thus expresses a hierarchy among living spaces – from a student’s private bedroom and study and the suite’s living room, to the college’s lounges and dining halls, and finally to the courtyards – giving physical form to the University’s goals for residential life.          

The student dining experience

The commission to design the new residential Martel College coincided with a campus-wide program to develop dining halls at each college site. Rice had thought that each would have its own kitchen, but we saw an opportunity to create a central kitchen and servery for the North Campus that would link Martel with the two existing colleges. The savings from consolidating these facilities  allowed us to create individual dining commons for the other two colleges and expand their residential space. The distinctive designs for each reinforce the colleges’ identities and pride.   

Martel Dining

Brown Dining

Jones Dining

Tom Rowe, AIA

Principal, Design Practice Leader
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Kathy Dy, AIA

Principal, Design Practice Leader
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