School
Sarah Whiting

By Sarah Whiting

Everything is Architecture, the Viennese architect Hans Hollein famously proclaimed in 1968 and I have yet to find a better explanation of our field than those three words. Architecture reflects and affects its own relevance – its political, historical, social, economic, material, technical, and cultural contexts, as well as the immediate physical context in which it is sited. Architecture often remains in place long after any or all of these contexts have evolved: sometimes it evolves in sync; at other times it persists as a marker of an earlier time.

"Rice Architecture is the meeting point of that everything: of design and discourse; of theory and practice; of past and future; and of Rice and the world."

The challenge, then is how do you teach a field that’s, well, everything? Rice Architecture is the meeting point of that everything: of design and discourse; of theory and practice; of past and future; and of Rice and the world. Here at Rice we put architecture within its cultural context, while also mining architecture’s own culture. Architecture shapes our world – it affects how we live in a room, in a city, and across our globe. We don’t shy away from acknowledging that architecture creates boundaries. Walls necessarily define an inside and an outside, a here and a there; doors, materials, and circulation necessarily bring up questions of access, privacy and publicity. Architecture can open onto or it can close our own world from the worlds of others. Repercussions, ranging from the technical to the political, come into play with every design project. There are no “right” answers for how to negotiate architecture’s cultural impacts and one cannot influence or even anticipate most, but learning to think, talk, and act culturally is what we do here at Rice Architecture.

"Rice Architecture teaches architects to be leaders in the conversations that inevitably make up our discipline and impact our worlds."

How? We are intimate and intense. We are a small school with large ambitions. We can, and do, optimize at every turn. We know you. You know us. At our core is a running conversation: a tête-à-tête that is at once curated, spontaneous, formal and informal. It connects students, faculty, and visitors. It connects architecture to ideas. It connects the school to the world. It is as casual as a passing exchange and as vibrant as a thesis presentation. It takes place in a series of carefully considered studios, lecture courses, seminars, workshops, events, and travels around the world. It takes place over a coffee. It might be ruminative; it might be rambunctious. It is a conversation that begins as an introduction to architecture and that culminates in an architect being far more than conversant: Rice Architecture teaches architects to be leaders in the conversations that inevitably make up our discipline and impact our worlds.

Faced with global economic, political, and environmental crises, we can't afford to be passive. Leading – engaging the world – requires mixing a precise understanding of our multiple contexts with architectural speculations that define a better future. It requires being optimistic, discerning, collaborative, and smart. Every project in the school, whether in studio, lecture courses, or seminars, should project forward. Everything is Architecture: we understand these three words as a mandate to navigate that everything (which is as exciting as it is unpredictable) with a nimble, yet precise understanding of what makes architecture relevant.

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