The Moody Center for the Arts
The Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University was designed by renowned Los Angeles-based architect Michael Maltzan. The architect’s striking contemporary design, with its bold geometric shapes and inviting transparency, creates a beacon on Rice’s campus while affirming the Moody’s mission to foster connections across disciplines.
The $30 million, 50,000 square-foot building serves as an experimental platform for creating and presenting works in all disciplines, a flexible teaching space to encourage new modes of learning, and a forum for creative partnerships with visiting national and international artists.
The mission of the Moody Center for the Arts is to encourage creative thinking and original expression, enrich curricular innovation, and promote cross-campus and community collaboration through transformative encounters with the arts.
An experimental space for both fabrication and exhibition, with equal emphasis on process presentation.
An extraordinarily flexible teaching space to encourage new modes of making, learning and presenting.
A forum for creative partnerships with visiting national and international artists as well as the Houston arts community.
Connective Framework for Collaboration
At the heart of the Moody is a double-height space that anchors the building in plan and section. Imagined as a kind of interior quad, this flexible studio echoes the numerous quadrangles found across the Rice campus. Within the interior landscape of the building the flexible studio functions similarly, by bringing diverse programmatic functions into contact with one another and extending views out toward the campus. Arrayed around the flexible studio are galleries, a black box theater, shops, project studios and classrooms.
The space features a high degree of flexibility and is expected to serve as a platform for group collaboration, performance and art exhibition. The transparency of the space affirms the Moody’s artistic mission to foster connections between disciplines while leveraging the constant hum of activity to energize the core of the facility.
Open Spaces for Creativity
The interior of the Moody as a whole is designed with the intent of creating a sense of openness and possibility. Sightlines transect through spaces, creating layered views of the myriad activities playing across the building’s production, instructional and exhibition spaces. Simultaneously, views extend along major corridors and out to the campus, enabling building users to easily orient themselves, and facilitating direct access to studios, classrooms and shops. Extensive interior glazing offers views into learning, production and exhibition spaces with the intent of highlighting artistic process as a complement to the exhibition of finished works. Along the building’s north façade, a set of wide stairs rises from the first floor and turns back toward the interior, creating an interior amphitheater that serves as an informal social space.
An Icon in Context
The emphasis on transparency extends to the building’s exterior, with the majority of the first floor along the principal elevations clad in floor-to-ceiling glass. Arcades by the cantilevered massing on the second floor create shaded walkways, with the overall effect of the building’s brick-clad upper story appearing to levitate. Large picture windows punctuate the articulated brick facade in a playful rhythm and bring light deep into interior spaces. Pedestrian paths cut across the site’s open lawn and into the building, simultaneously organizing key interior program areas and linking the new building to the broader campus. In doing so, the design creates an iconic home in the spirit of the Moody’s forward-looking vision that is equally at home on Rice’s historic campus.
What does the building contain?
Michael Maltzan Architecture
Founded in 1995, Michael Maltzan Architecture is an architecture, landscape, and urban design practice committed to the creation of progressive, transformative experiences that chart new trajectories for architecture and the public realm. The Los Angeles-based practice, led by Michael Maltzan, FAIA, has designed award-winning educational and cultural facilities around the world including projects with the Museum of Modern Art, Art Center College of Design, UCLA Hammer Museum, San Francisco State University, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Kidspace Children’s Museum and Inner-City Arts.