Rice’s Moody Center for the Arts to open in February

Mona Hatoum named first artist-in-residence

Rice University’s $30 million Moody Center for the Arts will open in February, Executive Director Alison Weaver announced this month. Describing the center as “a boundary-defying lab for creativity across all disciplines,” Weaver said the building designed by Los Angeles-based architect Michael Maltzan will bring together the Rice community and the Houston public to support innovative artistic work. The opening ceremony is planned for Feb. 24.

Northwest corner of the Moody Center for the Arts. Rendering courtesy of Michael Maltzan Architecture

Northwest corner of the Moody Center for the Arts. Rendering courtesy of Michael Maltzan Architecture

Weaver also announced that internationally acclaimed artist Mona Hatoum has been selected as the Moody’s first artist-in-residence. Hatoum, a Palestinian who was born in Beirut, will take up her residency in the spring shortly after the center’s formal opening.

“Mona’s work in sculpture, performance, video and installation is currently the subject of a major survey exhibition at London’s Tate Modern, and we are very proud and honored to have such a respected and talented artist coming to the Moody, where she will devote part of her residency to developing works for her first major exhibition in the United States in 20 years,” Weaver said. That exhibition will be on display at Houston’s Menil Collection Oct. 6, 2017, through Feb. 25, 2018. The Menil will join with the Moody in presenting a public lecture by Hatoum.

Weaver said the 50,000-square-foot Moody will serve as an experimental platform for creating and presenting works in all disciplines, a flexible teaching space to encourage new modes of making and a forum for creative partnerships with visiting national and international artists.

Mona Hatoum, the Moody's first artist-in-residence. Photo credit: Andri Pol

Mona Hatoum, the Moody’s first artist-in-residence. Photo credit: Andri Pol

Open and accessible to the public, the Moody is dedicated to transdisciplinary collaboration in the arts, sciences and humanities, Weaver said. She said the center will establish a new arts district on the Rice campus, close to the Shepherd School of Music and James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace on the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion.

The Moody facilities will include art gallery space, a 150-seat black-box theater, a gallery for experimental performance and a café. The center’s defining feature is the light-flooded, interdisciplinary maker lab at its core: an atrium with immediate access to surrounding resources that include a wood shop, metal shop, paint booth, rapid prototyping areas, studio classrooms, technology lending library and audiovisual editing booths.

“The Moody Center for the Arts is both a major new facility for our campus and Houston and a vital new program, which together demonstrate Rice’s commitment to the arts and to creativity as central to our university’s mission,” President David Leebron said. “While Rice earned early in its history a strong reputation in the sciences, engineering and the professions, we are today equally proud of our dedication to and success in the arts and humanities, which contribute in essential ways to every education and every intellectual endeavor. The Moody Center is a stake in the ground for our continuing arts commitment, and we look forward to welcoming everyone on campus and the entire Houston community to the Moody.”

Weaver said that by establishing the Moody, “Rice both reflects and supports the way students are learning and artists are working today — collaboratively and across disciplines. We are thrilled to be inaugurating Michael Maltzan’s extraordinary building, which perfectly embodies what we hope to achieve at the Moody.

“Michael’s striking contemporary design, with its bold geometric shapes and inviting transparency, will make the Moody a beacon on Rice’s campus while affirming the mission to foster connections across disciplines,” Weaver said.

The Moody's creative open studio. Rendering courtesy of Michael Maltzan Architecture

The Moody’s creative open studio. Rendering courtesy of Michael Maltzan Architecture

Maltzan, founder and principal of Michael Maltzan Architecture, said, “The interior of the Moody is designed to foster a sense of openness and possibility. The double-height makers’ space at its heart can be imagined as an interior quad, echoing the other quads found throughout the Rice campus. This interior landscape brings the most diverse programmatic functions into contact with one another, while opening views out to the campus.

“This emphasis on transparency extends to the building’s exterior, whose brick-clad upper story seems to float over an entry level encased in floor-to-ceiling glass. With pedestrian paths cutting across the site’s open lawn and into the building, a set of stairs on the north façade turning back to form an interior amphitheater and the cantilevered mass of the second story creating covered walkways below, the Moody will be one of the most active social spaces on the Rice campus, and a welcoming facility for all of Houston,” he said.

The Moody was made possible by a $20 million grant from the Texas-based Moody Foundation, a charitable organization with an emphasis on education, social services, children’s needs and community development, with additional support from the Brown Foundation and other donors.

For more information, visit the Moody website: http://moody.rice.edu.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.