The School of Social Sciences celebrated its 40th anniversary and threw a housewarming for its new 78,000-square-foot building.

Photo by Tommy LaVergne

On a sunny February day, members of the Rice community gathered to dedicate the newly constructed Patricia Lipoma Kraft ’87 and Jonathan A. Kraft Hall for Social Sciences.

The building’s completion marks the growth of social science scholarship at Rice and creates a policy corridor that includes the Jones Graduate School of Business and the Baker Institute for Public Policy. “Today, 30% of [Rice] majors are in social sciences,” said President David Leebron in his dedication comments. “And some of the most important things that we do that have impact outside this university and across the country and around the world occur in social sciences.”  

Kraft Hall is now home to the School of Social Sciences’ sociology and economics departments, sociology lab space, the Texas Policy Lab, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, the Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance, the Religion and Public Life Program and the Houston Education Research Consortium.  

Photo by Tommy LaVergne

The four-story building was designed by the Rogers Partners architecture firm and features a native plant-filled inner courtyard along with many informal gathering places. The structure’s design combines some of the more traditional Rice elements, such as the iconic St. Joe brick seen on many campus structures, with new concepts, including an interconnected mix of spaces: classrooms of varying sizes, conference rooms and offices, including the dean of social sciences’ suite. The windows in Kraft Hall — a feature of every office — fill the structure with natural light. The building also offers lounge and work spaces.  

Photo by Tommy LaVergne

The 40th anniversary festivities also included faculty lightning talks — five-minute talks on research by faculty from each of the social science disciplines — and a distinguished alumni lecture by David Rhodes ’96, senior adviser at Boston Consulting Group and former president of CBS News.