The Rice School of Architecture looks at “Designing the Future”

Architecture has been an important focus at Rice ever since Edgar Odell Lovett chose the Boston firm of Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson to design the first campus buildings. In 1910, the firm sent William Ward Watkin as its representative to oversee the construction, and Watkin was soon offered a faculty position. He would go on to head the architecture department until his death in 1952.

This semester, we’re highlighting the School of Architecture with an eight-session course beginning Tuesday, September 13. Each week we’ll hear from different faculty members who will look at the past, present and future of the practice.

Sarah Whiting, William Ward Watkin Professor and dean of the School of Architecture, will kick things off with the lecture “Designing the Future,” which she says is the overarching topic of the series.

“We chose that topic for the series because that’s what architects do, in a broad brush way: we envision the future and (ideally) offer the world a better future in the process,” Whiting says. “For my introductory lecture to the series, I’ll lay the groundwork by explaining that position and then I will give a short historical overview of architects who have envisioned ideal futures -– Utopian cities, societies, and buildings.”

What does she hope participants will take away from the eight-week series? “I trust that the audience will gain a better understanding of what makes architects tick and will glimpse, with our help, the possibilities that we all see every day in the world that surrounds us,” she says. “Architects are generalists – it’s a field that affects everyone and that is affected by everything. The series can be seen as an alternative ‘futures market’ (and maybe one that is more optimistic than the economic one right now) that ranges from the utopian to the pragmatic, from the very big plan to the specific detail, and from the School of Architecture to our global world.”

We’re looking forward to the course, Dean Whiting!

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