Brockman Hall wins international recognition

Physics building earns 2015 Honor Award from American Institute of Architects 

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has named Rice University’s Brockman Hall for Physics one of 11 international winners of its 2015 Honor Awards.

Brockman Hall for Physics

The worldwide awards recognize “achievements for a broad range of architectural activity in order to elevate the general quality of architectural practice, to establish a standard of excellence against which all architects can measure performance and to inform the public expectations for architectural practice, its breadth and its value.”

The AIA jury said Brockman Hall “is a total knockout in every way – from the incredible planning to the spectacular detailing – yet it is extremely simple and very flexible.”

Designed by Philadelphia-based architect KieranTimberlake, the 110,000-square foot building houses classrooms and research laboratories for atomic, molecular and optical physics that require sophisticated noise, vibration and environmental isolation systems. Rice received $11.1 million in federal stimulus funds from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for Brockman, which was designed and built within 33 months and dedicated in March 2011.

Above ground, the building consists of two long bars connected by a pair of glass bridges. The space between the bars allows for airflow and natural light to reach the offices within. Below ground, the building houses the most sensitive physics laboratories, which can now run experiments 24 hours a day. In their former homes, labs had to run sensitive experiments late at night to avoid vibrations from nearby streets.

The building was designed to fit into the limited space between science buildings on the north side of campus. It follows the general campus plan established by original architect Ralph Adams Cram in 1910 for thin buildings set into elongated, tree-lined courts.

“If you don’t do a building at Rice well, it shows up really, really easily,” architect James Timberlake told the AIA’s Architect Magazine. Timberlake described Brockman as the most complex building the firm had ever designed.

“KieranTimberlake managed to fit Brockman Hall into a very tight part of campus with extraordinary elegance, creating a beautiful physics building but also a shaded garden, which has become a new destination for everyone on campus,” said Rice School of Architecture Dean Sarah Whiting.

Previous Rice recipients of this AIA honor are Herring Hall in 1986 and the Brochstein Pavilion and Central Quad in 2010. See the full list of this year’s winners here.


About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.