The Brown Foundation has agreed to provide funds for Rice University to disassemble the corrugated campus building once known as the Rice Museum and reassemble it on a site in the Fourth Ward, the school’s student newspaper reports. A story posted last night by the Rice Thresher‘s Jieya Wen doesn’t precisely identify the intended new location of the building, but art professor and photographer Geoff Winningham tells her that plans are being developed to turn the metal-sided structure into a public art center on its new site: “The building was designed so that it can be disassembled and moved in parts,” he tells Wen. “The university has agreed to allow [the] building to stand for a couple more weeks [in order] to come up with the actual plan for moving the building.”
Arts patrons John and Dominique de Menil had the structure built in 1969, and only moved their noted arts programs out of the space when construction of Renzo Piano’s Menil Collection was completed in 1986. The building, also dubbed the “Art Barn,” also provided offices and classrooms for the school’s visual arts department. From the time the Menils left through last year, the building served as the home of Rice’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. The building and its sorta-twin, the Rice Media Center (also pictured above) are commonly cited as the inspiration behind Houston’s “Tin House” school of metal-sided homes.
Wen reports that Rice’s visual and dramatic arts department had wanted to use the building for studio space after the Glasscock School moved to its new digs across the drive near the university’s main south entrance. Rice VP for administration Kevin Kirby tells Wen that safety problems and the potential cost of renovation led the university to its decision to demolish the structure. (That decision was modified over the weekend after the Brown Foundation announced it would guarantee funds for moving the building.) But Winningham tells Wen he believes there were no safety problems with the building, and an arts major labels the administration’s decision to get rid of the building instead of using it to build an arts nexus on campus “an issue of priority, not of cost.”
- Art Barn removal concerns local community [Rice Thresher]
- Previously on Swamplot: Protests Delay Planned Demolition of Former Rice Museum, May Mean More Gentle Dismantling, Reconstruction Elsewhere; Daily Demolition Report: Discontinuing Studies; Rice University To Demolish Former Menil Museum, Godfather of the Tin House Movement, Real Soon
Photos: Allyn West (top); Rice University