Rice U. to break ground on new School of Social Sciences building this summer

Building to be named for lead donors Patti and Jonathan Kraft

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

A rendering of the future Patricia Lipoma Kraft ’87 and Jonathan A. Kraft Hall for Social Sciences.

A rendering of the future Patricia Lipoma Kraft ’87 and Jonathan A. Kraft Hall for Social Sciences.

“We are deeply grateful for the visionary and generous support of the Krafts in funding this new home for the School of Social Sciences,” Rice President David Leebron said. “This vibrant building will bring together key parts of the School of Social Sciences and the Kinder Institute, fostering community within the school and building strong connections across the campus and with Houston. This is a critical investment in the increasing reputation of the School of Social Sciences for both education and impactful research.”

“We have great admiration for the leadership of President David Leebron and Dean Antonio Merlo,” said Patti and Jonathan Kraft. “We are also passionate believers in the importance of the social sciences. This combination of factors made supporting this initiative an easy decision for us and something we are proud to play a small role in.”

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. It will be located on the former site of Intramural Field 6 at the corner of College Way and Alumni Drive, just south of Baker Hall and east of Tudor Fieldhouse, and will be the first structure on Rice’s new South Axis that will eventually extend from McNair Hall south to the corner of University Boulevard and Main Street.

The building will have an interior courtyard. The first floor will be open at the northeast end for entrance from the center of campus and at the southwest corner for an outside event and reception space. The building’s formal entrance will be at the west end of the courtyard. A large staircase will overlook the courtyard and act as an architectural feature.

The exterior of the building will have a curtain wall at the northeast end that features the St. Joe brick traditionally used in Rice’s architecture, along with windows on the south and west sides. Cast stone and marble will add more color and detail to the building exterior.

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.

“This new building that will house the School of Social Sciences will be more than just a home for Economics, Sociology and other centers and institutes at Rice,” said Social Sciences Dean Antonio Merlo. “It will be the launch pad for contributions from the school to research, scholarship and the community. The building will create more opportunities for collaboration, broaden our research visibility and impact and facilitate outreach to and partnership with community leaders. We’re enormously grateful to Patti and Jonathan Kraft for their support of this project and for their continued friendship. We’re also thankful to the Kinder Foundation, the Cullen Foundation, Milton Boniuk and the many alumni and friends of the School of Social Sciences who have so generously contributed to the new building.”

Patti Kraft is a member of the Rice Board of Trustees and is an active volunteer in her home community of Boston/Brookline, Mass., serving on several boards and committees for area organizations. She owns Bellezza Home & Garden, a specialty retailer. She has a Bachelor of Arts in economics and managerial studies from Rice and is a graduate of Harvard Law School. Jonathan Kraft is president of The Kraft Group, a family holding company involved in multiple businesses in paper and packaging and sports and entertainment, including the New England Patriots, of which he is also president. He has a Bachelor of Arts in history from Williams College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

The Krafts live in Brookline with their three children.

The architect for the project is Rogers Partners, and the general contractor is Tellepsen Builders.

“The new Kraft Hall for Social Sciences will truly be a hinge between the traditional Academic Quad and the future South Axis,” said Rogers Partners founding principal Rob Rogers ’81. “The architecture accentuates the linkage across the campus and extends the graceful tradition of Rice buildings into a new generation of materials and spaces, all focused on learning, gathering and collaborating.”

The building is being designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification standards.

For more information on the School of Social Sciences, visit https://socialsciences.rice.edu/.

About Amy McCaig

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