A century of work by Rice School of Architecture (RSA) stars is the hook for this year’s Rice Design Alliance (RDA) Architecture Tour, which carries a centennial theme.
This year’s tour takes place April 6 and 7 and features 10 Houston residences designed by past and present Rice architecture faculty.
One is by the man who originated RSA and played an instrumental role in the creation of Rice itself: William Ward Watkin. The stately home at 1318 North Blvd. will be open for viewing by RDA members during the tour hours of 1 to 6 p.m. on both days.
Seven of the homes were designed by current Rice faculty members and their firms, and they serve a variety of lifestyles enjoyed by Houstonians that range from modern to graceful to playful.
All of those might describe the house at 2246 Quenby Road that Rice architecture professor Will Cannady built for his family in 1971. “The house on Quenby is a neat assemblage,” he said. “Most people build the front of the house and add on to the back. We built the back and added on to the front.”
Cannady said that as his two daughters grew, they shared a bathroom with their mom. “I had a private bathroom and three women mad at me,” he said. He solved the crush with a street-facing addition for his young teens, with a small art gallery and a pool between. “So it’s sort of upside-down, with the living room and kitchen on the second floor (of the original house), and backward-forwards. But we really enjoyed it. It was a great place to raise kids.”
John Casbarian ’69, partner with Danny Samuels ’71 at Taft Architects and the Harry K and Albert K. Smith Professor of Architecture, said the home at 2424 White Oak Drive reflects the plot on which it sits. “We were struck by the unique beauty of this unusual fan-shaped site – narrow on the urban street front, opening up toward an astonishing natural landscape, like no other in Houston,” he said. “The architecture serves simply as a backdrop to this garden of earthly delights.”
Nonya Grenader ’94, a professor in the practice of architecture and associate director of the Rice Building Workshop, is particularly proud of the home at 2231 Wroxton Road, an elegant combination of living and workspaces. “It’s an 1,800-square-foot house linked to a 700-square-foot studio by a double-height porch and upper-level bridge,” she said. “An expansive roof shades and unites all of the building elements with rooms that view the side garden and existing trees.”
Of 9 Pine Hill Lane, architecture professor Carlos Jiménez noted visitors will enter a “unique Houston landscape: Buffalo Bayou seen from a set of interior spaces that contract and expand. The main layout consists of open, interconnected rooms that unfold to 360-degree views of the landscape, giving each space a calm and singular quality.”
Also on the tour are homes by Rice’s Anderson Todd (9 Shadowlawn Circle), Gordon Wittenberg’s Wittenberg Partnership (6136 Kirby Drive), and Dawn Finley ’99 and Mark Wamble’s Interloop Architecture, (2409 Avalon Place). The work of late Rice educators James Morehead (1 Spring Hollow) and Claude Hooten (2126 Pine Valley Drive) is also represented.
The tour is open only to RDA members and their guests, but memberships are easy to come by. They cost $45 and can be purchased during the tour at the RDA office in Anderson Hall or at the North Boulevard, Spring Hollow, Pine Hill Lane, Kirby Drive, White Oak Drive and Avalon Place homes. Tickets are $25 for current members and their guests, and $15 for students and senior citizens. Tickets may be purchased online and picked up at the will-call office at 2409 Avalon Place.