the visual a reinvented art barn by diller scofidio + renfro


diller scofidio and renfro (DS+R) designs a new home for visual arts students at rice university, named the susan and fayez sarofim hall. located in houston, texas, the project will recall the image of the so-called ‘butler building,’ a simple steel barn structure known for its versatility and durability. the design team at DS+R reinvents this hermetic building type by freeing the steel frame from its skin to create an extroverted mini-campus for all to engage with the arts.


sarofim hall celebrates the economic qualities of the butler building, which have historically made these industrial loft-like structures so conducive to art production, education, and presentation. the newly unveiled design is characterized by its diagonal cleave which cuts across the length of the roof to define ArtStreet, a central artery that invites students and visitors into the heart of the space.

diller scofidio renfro sarofimaerial view of sarofim hall | visualizations courtesy of diller scofidio + renfro



artstreet and the front porch


the diagonal artery of sarofim hall by diller scofidio + renfro (see more) will be known as ArtStreet. this area will host a central gathering hub, and inherits the DNA of the arcades and courtyards throughout rice university. meanwhile, the building’s steel frame extends outward to become a ‘front porch’ for outdoor classes, exhibitions, film screenings, or reclining beneath the so-called ‘warhol tree.’


designed together with houston-based jackson & ryan architects (see more), team notes that the new sarofim hall will function as a machine for the production of art across disciplines. each space, outdoors or indoors, will serve a purpose in this process. each wall and niche can become a surface for display. the project will merge maker-spaces and exhibition spaces for the students and professors at rice university.

diller scofidio renfro sarofimart street, view from the southeast



sarofim hall’s advanced technical systems


diller scofidio + renfro integrates its sarofim hall with a 230-seat cinema and 125-seat performance space. these state-of-the-art facilities will include box-in-box acoustic separation, incorporating the most advanced technical systems in support of the project’s programming.


the studios and facilities are designed to inspire cross-disciplinary creation and guard against obsolescence. the north building studios occupy clear space beneath the dramatic spans of the steel frame, encouraging students to organize their work areas as needed. the senior studios along the upper floor can be likewise reconfigured to meet the diverse creative demands of the students. 

diller scofidio renfro sarofim
printmaking, painting, drawing, and senior studios

diller scofidio + renfro reveals rice university's future visual arts building 'sarofim hall'
view inside the cinema

diller scofidio + renfro reveals rice university's future visual arts building 'sarofim hall'outdoor film screening on west porch



project info:


project title: sarofim hall

design architect: diller scofidio + renfro (DS+R)

executive architect: jackson & ryan architects

location: 2030 university boulevard, houston, texas

client: rice university

landscape designer: OJB

theater consultant: fisher dachs associate

acoustics + AV: threshold

structural engineer: martinez moore

civil engineer: walter p. moore

MEP engineer: wylie associates

expected completion: 2024