Shepherd School of Music of Rice University has begun work on a new $100m music building with a groundbreaking ceremony.
The new building, along with Alice Pratt Brown Hall and adjoining plaza, will form the Rice University Music and Performing Arts Centre.
The new facility will include a three-tiered, 600-seat, European-style theatre with an orchestra pit for 70 musicians.
This will be the first theatre with such configuration among US universities and conservatories.
The design of the theatre reflects the Rice campus’ architectural style, which is also called neo-Byzantine.
Designed by Allan Greenberg Architect, the theatre will offer premium performance space for opera and chamber music, meet the need for rehearsal and practice space and attract and host high-profile speakers.
Theatre planning and design consultants Fisher Dachs Associates and acoustic consultants Threshold Acoustics collaborated with Allan Greenberg on the design of the theatre and orchestra pit.
The theatre will feature a ‘pin-drop’ acoustic experience created by Threshold Acoustics.
The venue is expected to open in 2020 with performances and public events.
Located near the most frequently used entrance to campus, the new building will be near Alice Pratt Brown Hall, home of the Shepherd School; the Anderson-Clarke Center, which accommodates the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies; the Moody Center for the Arts; and Rice’s athletic venues.
Along with the Moody Center for the Arts, the new facility will provide spaces for Rice’s growing portfolio of multidisciplinary performing arts programming as well as support some curricular offerings in the theatre programme in the School of Humanities.
Rice University president David Leebron said: “The new performing arts centre will be an extraordinary addition to Rice and the city of Houston.
“This new facility will do much to encourage and bolster the university’s arts education and activities and fits wonderfully into the emerging arts hub on the west side of campus.”