Brochstein Pavilion offers hot coffee, cool conversation

Brochstein Pavilion offers hot coffee, cool conversation

Rice News staff

The new Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion located on the west side of Fondren Library on Rice University’s newly refurbished Central Quadrangle was dedicated Thursday with hot coffee and wide-eyed fanfare.

President David Leebron noted that even though the beautiful glass building has no books or classrooms, “it is at the very core of what we are about.”

Raymond and Susan Brochstein address members of the Rice community at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the pavilion that bears their name.

Brochstein Pavilion provides a place where graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, staff and visitors can meet, chat and come together as a community — the interaction that makes a university an extraordinary place, Leebron said.

The 6,000-square-foot coffeehouse has light scoops that provide natural lighting and floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on a 10,700-square-foot wraparound plaza. The glass walls offer views of the surrounding elm grove, fountains, live oaks, new sidewalks and freshly sodded Central Quad. The building is equipped with four plasma TVs and 18 electrical outlets for laptops. Still be to added are 130 chairs and couches inside and 120 chairs in the plaza, which is covered by a trellis designed to filter light the same way live oaks do along Rice walkways. The building and plaza have wireless computer access.

Leebron commended the work done by architect Thomas Phifer and Barbara White Bryson, associate vice president for Facilities, Engineering and Planning, and her staff for their “labor of love.”

He thanked Susan and Raymond Brochstein for the generous gift that made the pavilion possible and noted that Raymond graduated from the Rice School of Architecture, whose faculty have been “unified about their response to this building and its signature effect on our campus.”

President David Leebron discusses the new pavilion.

“Nobody has taken more passionately the obligation we have to both our past and to our future to create here an extraordinary environment where we can undertake the important work of education, research, learning and contribution to our community,” Leebron said.

Raymond Brochstein received Bachelor of Arts and Science degrees in architecture from Rice in 1955 and 1956, respectively. He served as a trustee from 1998 to 2002, where he was an active member of the Building and Grounds Committee. He also served on a number of other committees and currently chairs the Rice University Art Committee. He is chairman of the board of Brochsteins Inc., a manufacturer of custom-designed commercial furniture and architectural woodwork.

Brochstein said the pavilion would not have been possible without Leebron’s encouragement and support. “First and foremost, David Leebron has been a great advocate for this project,” he said.

He added to Leebron’s praise for Phifer, Bryson and her staff, including project managers Larry Vossler and Ana Ramirez. He also applauded the work of landscape architect Jim Burnett, engineer Larry Wieber and Linbeck contractor Ed Durham.

Flat screen televisions provide current news to pavilion patrons.

“Susan and I have the easiest job of all,” he said. “We’re pleased to have been able to have done it.”

Susan Brochstein received a bachelor’s degree in English from Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University in 1959 and has worked with the Women’s Institute for many years. The Brochsteins have two children, Benjamin, who is currently a graduate student in religious studies at Rice, and Deborah, who received an MBA from Rice’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management in 2000 and is now president and CEO of Brochsteins Inc.

“Raymond’s devotion to good architecture has been a guiding force in our lives together,” she said. “We hope the sharing and communicating of new and old ideas with others over a good cup of coffee in this delightful venue will be among the fond memories Rice students will take with them for the rest of their lives.”

Matt Youn, president of the Student Association, said the pavilion will provide a place “where members of the Rice community can all feel welcome, where they can relax while watching TV or lounging around or just enjoying the weather.” He added, “This is one less construction site for Rice campus; this is one giant leap for mankind.”

Michael Contreras, president of the Graduate Student Association, said GSA leaders have searched for years for ways to get graduate students out of their labs and socially engaged in a dynamic learning environment. “The Brochstein Pavilion in the Central Quadrangle has become the answer to our prayers,” he said.

Susan Brochstein cuts the ribbon, signifying the pavilion’s official opening.

Deborah Harter, speaker of the Faculty Senate and associate professor of French studies, said the pavilion will provide a place where graduate students can write their dissertations, where faculty can meet with students “without the baggage of stuffy offices,” and where students who don’t live on campus can find a home. “We’ve needed a cozy venue for coffee and conversation on this campus for a very long time,” Harter said.

A committee of faculty, staff and students will oversee the scheduling of programming in the Central Quad, including concerts, theatrical performances and exhibits. The committee was proposed by a team involved in RiceLeaders, a leadership development program. Mark Ditman, associate vice president for Housing and Dining and chair of the pavilion team, said, “The pavilion is intended to be a crossroad on campus where people get the kind of human interactions necessary to develop as individuals and as a community.”

The Brochsteins are Rice Associates and members of the William Marsh Rice and 1891 Charter societies, which are groups of Rice donors. They also contributed 30 acres of land on South Main Street where the Library Service Center was built in 2003 and provided funding for the Brochstein Wing of Anderson Hall and for the Brochstein Visiting Professorship.

Dirk’s Coffee will provide the food and beverage service for the Brochstein Pavilion. In addition to Diedrich’s brand coffees and other beverages, the pavilion menu will include sandwiches, salads, snacks and desserts.

During its first week of operation, which is also finals week, Brochstein Pavilion will be open 24 hours a day to give students, faculty and staff access to “Broch around the clock.” The nonstop operation begins at 9 a.m. April 27 and continues through midnight May 2. Beginning May 3, the pavilion will operate on a summer schedule: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For commencement, May 10, the pavilion will be open from 7 a.m. to midnight.

For more information about Brochstein Pavilion and upcoming events, visit



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