A multimillion-dollar gift from eclipse chaser and Rice University trustee Suzanne Deal Booth will be used to build a monumental sod-covered pyramid that will serve as the focus of the campus’s long central axis. Construction is scheduled to start early next month on the $6 million mound, which will contain a room inside with bench seating, as well as a second level above. At the top of the flat-topped pyramid, a 72-ft.-square pavilion with a square hole cut into the top will frame views of the sky.
The mound will house artist James Turrell’s 28th Skyspace, his second in Houston. A similar work by Turrell in the Live Oak Friends Meeting House in Shady Acres reopened last year after 2 years of repairs to the retractable roof above it. The roof on Rice’s Skyspace won’t close, but the space will be outfitted for live and recorded music. Arrays of LEDs — mounted in troughs on the top of the pyramid — will create colored sunrise and sunset light shows on the underside of the roof canopy.
The construction will sit in front of the courtyard entrance to Rice’s Shepherd School of Music, and will likely become the central focus of Rice’s third giant central courtyard-in-the-making, framed so far by the music school, the Baker Institute, and the business school’s McNair Hall. The Skyspace is expected to open for sky viewings in November.
- Multimillion-dollar gift will bring Turrell masterpiece to Rice University [Rice News]
- $6 million Turrell Skyspace to be constructed [Rice Thresher]
- Skyspace locations [Wikipedia]
- Previously on Swamplot: Roof Moves Again, Friday Night Sky Reopens in Shady Acres
Rendering: Thomas Phifer and Partners