Rice University South College Expansion

On the surface, the latest project to rise above the campus of Rice University would at first appear to be two ordinary concrete cast-in-place dorm buildings.  The South Colleges project for Rice University includes two new bed towers, one for Baker College and one for Will Rice College.  The two (2), four (4) story dormitory buildings will build concurrently and comprise approximately 40,000 square feet of gross building area each.  The structures are conventionally reinforced concrete flat slab supported by columns and laterally braced with shear walls.  United Forming is providing complete cast-in-place turnkey services to construct the two towers.



The two buildings are far from ordinary.  The buildings were conceived and designed by the renowned British architectural firm of Hopkins Architects, Ltd. The practice is most celebrated for creating energy-efficient designs by way of its innovative treatment of common building materials to achieve spectacular results.  For the South Colleges, lead architect Laura Carrara-Cagni utilized exposed cast-in-place surfaces for the ceilings, walls, columns, slab edges and cantilevered stairs.


Through an interview process, the Owner, Architect and General Contractor selected United Forming as the frame contractor.  UFI was preferred based upon a solid reputation for quality work and the Owner’s experience with UFI on previous work at the University.  Additionally, the team was energized by UFI’s readiness to participate fully in the Design Assist and Budgeting of the project.  UFI joined the project team nine months ahead of construction to assist in finalizing the structures design and budget.  The preconstruction process incorporated an extensive study of LEED conforming concrete mixes and form panels to achieve the desired finishes with the lowest possible cost.  In turn, the schedule had to strike a balance between the desired level of quality and an overriding requirement to have the buildings open for the fall 2010 semester.  This was indeed a delicate balance, but the towers are on pace to open as scheduled.