Rice Architecture announces Cannady Hall

Building named for lead donor, Professor William Cannady, will house new initiatives

Will Cannady has been a presence at the Rice University School of Architecture for nearly six decades.

Yet he wanted to seal a longer legacy.

William Cannady

William Cannady

With the announcement of his generous lead gift, the school is planning the imminent construction of William T. Cannady Hall, just west of the school’s current home, Anderson Hall, with groundbreaking tentatively scheduled for June 2020.

“I think luck has favored me since I was a kid,” said Cannady, an emeritus professor of architecture and an architect whose firm has had a constant presence in Houston and beyond. “It has helped to have a ‘guardian angel’ continually hovering over me. This is the main thing that enabled me to have developed enough wealth to make this gift.

“I made this contribution to Rice because I did not want to be known only by my possessions,” he said. “I made this gift to be useful and to belong to something larger than myself. It was also easy, since I care a lot about Rice Architecture and the university.”

Cannady celebrated his 50th anniversary as a Rice professor in 2014, as detailed in a Rice News profile and video at the time. He officially retired in January of this year, but immediately committed to teach the business of architecture as a professor emeritus of architecture and an adjunct professor in the Jones School of Business for the next three years.

Cannady noted that when he started in 1964, Rice Architecture was on the rebound, having started its vaunted preceptorship program, which places students in leading architecture offices around the world, and committed to hiring seven new professors.

“I was No. 7,” he said. “The department at this time was a heady place filled with enthusiasm and confidence. We knew the school was headed for national excellence and prominence. It is my hope that this gift helps to propel Rice Architecture to the No. 1 position in both undergraduate and graduate programs nationally.”

In conjunction with today’s announcement, Dean Sarah Whiting, the William Ward Watkin Professor of Architecture, said the Board of Trustees’ design subcommittee of Buildings and Grounds has chosen Swiss architecture firm Karamuk Kuo to design the project.

The 20,000-square-foot hall will be geared toward exhibition space, flexible teaching space, research and fabrication space and faculty offices. Whiting expects it will serve as the hub of a cross-disciplinary program involving all of Rice’s schools.

Its construction is a long-sought goal of Whiting, who said Cannady Hall will enhance Rice Architecture’s reach across campus and beyond.

“For Will to give this generous gift to the school after giving as a professor for over 50 years is simply astonishing,” Whiting said. “Having a building named for a faculty member is unique. And the architects that were selected for this building will ensure that it is as unique as Will and as our incredible school: Jeannette Kuo, the principal who will be in charge of this project, went to American schools for her architecture degree and also teaches in the U.S. When she came to interview for the project, she participated in a dynamic, all-school conversation, which I know will continue throughout this process.”

“It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be called on to design an architecture school,” Kuo said. “Ünal (Karamuk) and I have both been teaching at various universities, so we are deeply invested in the pedagogical discussions of our discipline. To be able to reflect on what that means for future generations through the space we design is, of course, hitting right at the core of it.

“(Rice) is a school that we have been watching for a while and whose philosophy of ‘small size, great impact’ really jibes with us,” she said.

About Mike Williams

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