For more than twenty years, Rice Architecture has engaged the world and our community by challenging students to contribute directly to the built environment. Construct designs and builds projects that produce lasting effects, working with local community groups to create enduring resources for underserved neighborhoods while building knowledge through research and experience.
First established as Rice Building Workshop, Construct reaffirms Rice Architecture’s commitment to student design-build education and social engagement while drawing added emphasis to innovation through design research and technology. 
Working at various scales and in diverse situations, students engage all facets of the creative process—conception through construction. Expanding their knowledge in the pursuit of novel solutions to real-world challenges, students work together to test concepts against the practical realties of budget and schedule, explore innovative means of analysis and fabrication, and translate forward-thinking designs into built works.
Architecture students at all levels, from sophomores through the graduate program, participate in Construct seminars where projects range in scale from furniture to buildings to neighborhoods, and involve different stages in the process of design and making. Advanced students can also take part in Studio Construct as part of Totalization where studio research is applied directly to the design of a building for construction. Some projects reach fruition in one semester; others may require several years to move from idea to completion. During design, Construct works much like an architectural practice as students meet with clients to develop programs, work in small teams to generate ideas, consult with engineers and refine proposals in response to budget, technical details, and code compliance. During construction, seminar students adapt designs to changing circumstances, fine-tune documentation, fabricate custom components, or simply commit their time and effort to the hands-on process of building, deriving both knowledge and personal satisfaction from seeing their ideas shepherded into being.
Architectural Drawing
Prefab core arrives at +House. Drone shot by Brandon Martin

Every project reflects a collaborative process of development as students work with faculty, clients, consultants, suppliers, crafts-people, contractors and, perhaps most importantly, each other. Twenty years and seven hundred students later, the organization has created more than thirty innovative projects. Each expands the school’s horizons, bringing us into contact with an extraordinary array of collaborating non-profit organizations, including Buffalo Bayou PartnershipCovenant Community CapitalAgape DevelopmentFotoFest, Workshop Houston, Herman Park Conservancy, The Menil Collection and Project Row HousesWhat our students take away in experience, they give back to these organizations and to the people of Houston that these organizations serve.

Construct is co-directed by Assistant Professor Andrew Colopy and Professor in the Practice Danny Samuels. It was founded in 1996 as Rice Building Workshop (RBW) by Professors in the Practice Danny Samuels and Nonya Grenader. 


Construct Projects

Auxiliary ADU

Auxiliary ADU addresses sustainability and collectivity on multiple scales - from the envelope to the urban context. It begins not with a single dwelling, but rather an adaptable prototype suitable for many sites throughout Houston. The project addresses issues of privacy and shared areas on a single lot, as well as the potential for new collective space across property lines as ADUs increase density.

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Architectural Drawing

Six Projects

Accessory dwellings pose some challenges. Smaller spaces and tighter quarters test our cultural norms of comfort and privacy. Hidden away, they struggle to participate in the public sphere. ADU rentals can’t provide the economic benefits of home ownership or the efficiencies of mass-produced, conventionally constructed homes. Construct, Rice Architecture’s design-build program, has taken up these challenges. Six Projects on Accessory Dwelling presents two recent projects in that effort: +House and Accessory

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Architectural Drawing


Accessory dwellings are a viable model for increasing density and socioeconomic diversity within existing sprawl. However, they face a fundamental typological challenge: inherent inequality. What is secondary cannot be equal. The Secondary project seeks to contribute to the national dialogue on accessory dwellings by upending that condition, by finding ways to establish equity through diversity and community.

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Architectural Drawing


+House is an accessory dwelling unit prototype with a minimal footprint for two, independent occupants. It includes space for sleeping, bathing, food preparation, work, and storage in a mere 360 square feet, with a generous porch that expands the dwelling out and into the exterior. This compact and efficient plan demonstrates one viable strategy to provide new, energy efficient housing in Houston while maintaining the existing urban fabric.

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Architectural Drawing


Workshop Houston began as the Third Ward Community Bike Shop in 2003 and continues as a lively outreach to Third Ward youth, combining hands-on bike repair and youth programming. In recent years, Workshop Houston (WH) programs have extended to numerous after-school and summer workshops and academic enrichment. To accommodate the expanded program, renovation and expansion of the current facility is required.

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Selected Print & Online



Selected Awards & Exhibitions

Texas Architecture Society
2019 Studio Award
Rice Energy and Environment Initiative
Awarded 50,000 Grant
Moody Center for the Arts
Six Projects on Accessory Dwelling
Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York
By the People: Designing a Better America
AIA New York
Designing Affordability: Quicker, Smarter, More Efficient Housing Now
GSD Harvard
Living Anatomy: An Exhibition About Housing, collaboration with PRH
Design Corps SEED Awards for Excellence in Public Interest Design
InHouse OutHouse


AIA (National) Innovation/Practice in House Design
InHouse OutHouse
Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Excellence in Housing Design Award
Rice Building Workshop, Three Core Houses
United States Department of Energy Solar Decathlon: 2nd Place, Architecture and 2nd Place, Market Viability
Rice ZeRow House, Washington, DC and Houston, TX
Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) Collaborative Practice Award
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Prize for Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy



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