Rice breaks ground on Patricia Lipoma Kraft ’87 and Jonathan A. Kraft Hall for Social Sciences

Rice hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 13 for the Patricia Lipoma Kraft ’87 and Jonathan A. Kraft Hall for Social Sciences, a new home for the School of Social Sciences. The building will be named for Patti and Jonathan Kraft, the lead donors for the project.

Bobby Tudor, chairman of the Rice University Board of Trustees, opened the event by welcoming everyone and thanking the donors and volunteers who made the project possible. He acknowledged the Krafts along with Doyle Arnold, who led the fundraising committee, and Rich and Nancy Kinder, who were unable to attend the event but have been longtime supporters of Rice and the Kinder Institute for Urban Research. He also acknowledged the architect for the project, Rob Rogers, a 1981 graduate of Rice’s School of Architecture.

Tudor then introduced Rice President David Leebron, who talked about the university’s aspirations to build on the vision of its first president, Edgar Odell Lovett.

(Video by Brandon Martin)

“We are incredibly excited about this,” Leebron said. “The School of Social Sciences is on a roll. It’s on a roll in terms of setting forth a vision, it’s on a roll in terms of the facilities it will have, it’s on a roll in terms of its reputation for teaching and it’s on a roll in terms of the faculty we are hiring.”

Antonio Merlo, dean of the School of Social Sciences, followed Leebron to the stage and remarked on this “tremendous milestone” for the school and echoed Tudor and Leebron’s thanks to the Rice board, the School of Social Sciences advisory board and members of the Rice Initiative for the Study of Economics Council.

“I’m honored to be a part of creating a home for our students, faculty and staff — one that will serve as a point of connection between our scholars, community, the city of Houston, the state of Texas and the wider world,” Merlo said. He also thanked the Krafts and other alumni and friends who have supported and championed the building project.

“Your generosity means so much to our talented students and faculty, and strengthens our vision for what a top-tier social sciences program can achieve,” Merlo said.

Merlo then welcomed Patti Kraft to the stage.

“Jonathan and I are so happy to have our name on the social sciences building and are honored to be among all of you who have done so much to bring Rice to this point,” Kraft said.

She went on to discuss Rice’s impact on the trajectory of her life.

“My world expanded exponentially,” she said. “None of it would have been possible without this amazing institution, to which I’ll be eternally grateful. Jonathan and I are excited and proud to be a small part of this new era of social sciences study at my beloved Rice University.”

Social Sciences groundbreaking
(Photos by Jeff Fitlow)

The new $38 million, four-story, 73,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed by November 2019 and open prior to the spring 2020 semester. It will include classrooms, seminar and conference rooms, undergraduate and graduate student lounges and a multipurpose space that can hold nearly 300 people for guest lectures and other events.

The space will be home to the School of Social Sciences’ Sociology and Economics departments, the dean’s office, sociology lab space and the Texas Policy Lab. It will also house the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, the Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance and the Houston Education Research Consortium, which is part of both the School of Social Sciences and the Kinder Institute. The Kinder Foundation and Milton Boniuk provided financial support for the spaces for the Kinder Institute and Boniuk Institute, respectively. The Cullen Foundation and more than 35 individual donors also provided support for the building.

The architect for the project is Rogers Partners, and the general contractor is Tellepsen Builders. The building is being designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification standards.

More information on the new building is available at https://bit.ly/2Nk3vhL.

About Amy McCaig

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