Core values inform Rice’s +House

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Rice architecture students designing, building home for Third Ward nonprofit
Four Rice University architecture students showed up at a construction site in Houston’s historic Third Ward early and ready to work Dec. 8. But first they had to clear the decks after a rare snowfall.
It was already an unusual day in the city, but it was a big one for Rice Architecture students building a small two-bedroom home for Agape Development. The nonprofit program will use it to house counselors in an initiative that supports at-risk youth. A few hours later, the building’s “core” was delivered and put into place.
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The +House project in the backyard of an Agape home on Conley Street is the next iteration in the core concept being developed by Rice Construct, the new name for the 21-year-old operation known until recently as Rice Building Workshop.
The core, a 3,000-pound box built on campus at Ryon Lab last summer, contains the bathroom, kitchen and electrical, heating and air conditioning systems in a single unit meant to slide into the building, simplifying construction and saving on-site costs. Once the core is in place, all the municipal utilities hook up at a central location.
A previous iteration of the core, the Modpod, was inserted into a renovated home for Project Row Houses in 2012, but the 350-square-foot +House is the first core building that students have designed and built from scratch. After more than a year of planning and core construction, they have been building on-site since returning to school this fall.
Roque Sanchez puts some muscle into the core unit by pushing into the frame of +House, a Rice Construct project in Houston’s Third Ward.
“We’ve done about 10 Saturdays of construction with people who are not very experienced at it,” said Danny Samuels, co-director of Rice Construct and a co-founder of Rice …

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