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South Colleges East Servery

In the historic heart of Rice University, the East Servery emerges as a dynamic culinary and social nexus, transforming the dining experience and reimagining communal interaction on campus.

As an integral part of the South Residential Campus Master Plan, the East Servery marks a significant renovation and expansion within the University's iconic residential college system. By replacing two outdated facilities, it has emerged as a vital social hub for the University community, enhancing campus navigation and reinforcing the identity of the residential colleges.

Envisioned as a large transparent volume, the design emphasizes connection and dialogue with the surrounding colleges and iconic Oak Grove. It incorporates three-dimensional steel trusses, supported by slender, circular pipe columns, with each element meticulously designed to ensure seamless construction and fit. The integration of solid maple boarding for ceilings and wall panels interplays elegantly with the steel structural elements. The building's glazed façades, equipped with horizontal louvers for sun-shading, converge under a gently sloping, weathered-zinc roof, effectively blending the servery's modern form with the historic character of campus.

At night, the East Servery is distinguished by its luminescent quality, thanks to the combination of slender steel and warm maple, which stands out in the verdant landscape. The design features a restrained material palette, selected to complement the campus environment without overshadowing it. Designed for optimal energy efficiency, the East Servery focuses on durability and low maintenance to ensure that the self-finishing materials age gracefully.

The roof's truss framing employs a modular system of 14 shop-fabricated x-shaped pieces, allowing for rapid assembly. The innovative tension cable system facilitates the lifting of the roof structure, enabling swift removal of supports and completing the steel truss erection in a single day.

With solid boarded maple and sealed concrete floors, the servery's interior offers a serene dining experience. Natural light floods in, creating a floating ceiling effect. Capable of serving 450 meals per hour, the East Servery also features a renovated private dining area overlooking a garden, offering an intimate dining experience.

  • Honor Award, AIA Virginia, 2015
  • Honor Award, AIA Hampton Roads, 2015
  • Merit Award, AIA Virginia, 2013

Hanbury served as Executive Architect in collaboration with Hopkins Architects.

Project Team
Jane Cady Rathbone
Design Principal
Jean Webster
Project Architect
Hopkins Architects
Design Architect
Architectural Engineers Collaborative
Structural Engineering
Burns DeLatte & McCoy, Inc.
MEP Engineering
Walter P. Moore
Civil Engineering
A/V, Technology Consultant
The Office of James Burnett
Landscape Architect
Worrell Design Group
Food Service Consultant
Desman Associates
Traffic and Parking Consultant