The new opera theater will be built adjacent to the current music building which is pictured here Photo credit Rice University

Architect chosen for Rice University opera theater

March 18, 2014
The university announced the design team after a 10-month search.

Rice University has selected Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) to design the Shepherd School of Music’s new opera theater.

The university, which recently announced its decision, tapped the New York-based firm after a 10-month search. DS+R was the architect behind the renovation of Juilliard School, Lincoln Center and the upcoming expansion of the Museum of Modern Art.

Additionally, New York-based Fisher Dachs Associates will assist in the design of the theater, and Threshold Acoustics, which is based in Chicago, will lend its expertise in acoustics. Houston’s Linbeck Group will be the general contractor.

Charles Renfro, who graduated from Rice in 1989, will serve as the lead architect with DS+R. Renfro said the project site is “probably the most interesting and important space left on the Rice campus.”

“It’s the equivalent of the foundation building with the Sallyport except on the west side of campus,” he said in a press release. “To me, it will signify the entire shift of the university perceptually from one based in sciences to one that’s based in arts and sciences. The new front door will be an arts building, in addition to the existing Alice Pratt Brown Hall, which will be a great and wonderful new way to think about Rice in the city of Houston.”

The Shepherd School’s Opera Department enrolls just 36 singers per school year. The department’s alumni include Grammy-award winner Sasha Cooke, Michael Sumuel, Jennifer Johnson Cano and Mary-Jane Lee.

The new theater is scheduled to open in 2018.

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