The Anderson-Clarke Center for Continuing Studies serves as the connecting bridge between the constituents of Rice University and the Houston community. With the addition of this building, Rice University has been able to serve the community at large by housing continuing education courses for part-time students such as foreigners seeking to learn English or senior citizens wanting to learn new skills or find intellectual stimulation. The Anderson-Clarke Center also provides space for lectures, conferences, social gatherings, faculty and administrative offices, and storage.
In American culture, many people consider colleges and universities to be elitist “ivory towers” where academics go about their intellectual pursuits, are concerned only with their careers, their students, or their institution, and are generally out of touch with the daily lives of the “rest of us.”
From the perspective of the Dean of Rice University’s Continuing Studies program, such perceptions needed to be changed. How could the university become a friendlier and more inviting place, where anyone might feel welcome and have enriching experiences?
Working with you and Brad and Scott has been a great experience–you said you designed beautiful buildings and you were right! I’m unpacking in my new office and looking out the window a lot!
The answer, of course, was to offer programs designed to serve the needs of the community and house them in an attractive, dynamic building that also functions as the main entryway to the campus.
When Overland Partners was brought in to fulfill this vision, they saw this as an opportunity to create an open door to Rice. At the same time, their biggest challenge was to ensure that the design of a new contemporary structure would integrate well with the existing historical buildings on campus, maintaining the “Rice identity” in accordance with the university’s master plan.