Academic Quadrangle Redesign

Rice University is in the midst of reimagining one of its most iconic spaces — the Academic Quadrangle. The transformation of the space, flanked by Lovett Hall and Fondren Library, will preserve the university’s rich history and create new areas that will build community and deeper connections to this historic part of campus.

Academic Quad Redesign: Final
Final rendering of the redesigned Academic Quad (site plan).

Images of the full redesign are above and below with construction currently underway. Completion of the redesign is anticipated in late spring 2024.

Quad Redesign Full Renderings
Final renderings of the redesigned Academic Quad.

The internationally acclaimed landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz has been chosen to work with Rice on this important project. The redesigned Academic Quad will have several gathering spaces with tables, chairs and shade where people can gather, study, relax and reflect. 

The quad is one of the university’s most iconic spaces. It’s what people visualize when they think of Rice. That’s why the thoughtful evolution of this space is so important.

Based on walking paths that have developed over the years, a new main, permanent walkway from the quad's southwest corner (Rayzor Hall) to its northeast corner (Herzstein Hall) has been proposed. And, a space near the middle of the quad will be used for performance and civic conversation. 

This is a major moment of transformation and opportunity for the quad to outwardly tell what Rice’s values are in the 21st century.

NBW, Rice Board of Trustees, and President Reginald DesRoches have engaged students, faculty, staff and alumni to refine the firm’s proposed design for the Academic Quad, which will include the respectful relocation of the Founder’s Memorial statue of William Marsh Rice to a different location in the quad. 

Repurposing the statue’s current location will allow the university to highlight the many voices that reflect the diversity of the university and dedicate areas within the quad to be centers for student community life. 

We intend for the Academic Quadrangle to both fully acknowledge the history of our founding and founder, and to mark and celebrate the important evolution and growth of our university over time. We believe the redesign will allow us to move forward as a community, and we are grateful to Rice’s Task Force on Slavery, Segregation and Racial Injustice for its leadership as well as to the many students, faculty, staff, alumni and other valued stakeholders for their thoughts and guidance in helping us reach this decision.

A new monument of similar prominence will be incorporated into the design to commemorate the beginning of the university’s integration a half-century after its opening. Over time, additional monuments representing other milestones in the university’s history will be added over time.

Engagement Session Diagram and Image Boards
These concept images and illutrations were presented to the Rice community this spring. [ High-Res Image (Left) ] High-Res Image (Right)

If you have questions about this project, please write to

Nelson Byrd Woltz
Landscape Architects

NBW has offices in Virginia, New York and Houston and is experienced in designing moving, respectful responses to culturally and historically significant sites of widely varying scales. The firm is also renowned for creating thoughtfully researched, sustainable landscapes based upon the native ecologies of its project sites. Both aspects of NBW’s specialities make the firm particularly well-suited to redesign Rice’s Academic Quadrangle. The firm’s recent projects include landscape designs for the Burial Ground for Enslaved People at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello; the John and Alice Coltrane Home in Dix Hills, New York; Virginia’s 600-acre Machicomoco State Park, which is devoted to Native American history and culture; the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; and Memorial Park’s Master Plan in Houston.