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2022 Associated Masonry Contractors Houston Golden Trowel Excellence Award



Project: Sid Richardson Residential College - Rice University

>>> Sid Richardson Residential College is a unique masonry project that changes the landscape of Rice University campus. In keeping with much of the architecture on the Rice University campus, Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. (CMS) supplied and installed approximately 480,000 handmade St. Joe brick on the new 148,000 square foot Sid Richardson Residential College. The façade of the building is distinctive with many different returns and angles further highlighted by various patterns and orientation of the brick (sawtooth, running bond and soldier) that impart visual texture. The layout of the college is a trio of linked structures; a two story housing workshops and event spaces with a roof terrace serving as a central social space and a five story and a twelve story that are primarily residential with 312 student beds, a magister’s apartment, three teaching assistant apartments and a 300 seat dining hall. The brick installation also spilled into the main common space of the interior dining room, which featured some carved iconography brick hidden in the wall. Beyond the brick on this project, additional definition is created by the glazed terra cotta brise soleil system that CMS supplied and installed at the glass-front common area.


Construction of the new Sid Richardson Residential College presented many challenging features that are not readily apparent to the casual observer. The sawtooth tower façades were difficult to access and involved multiple independent sections of multi-point suspended scaffolding. They also required tight control to maintain the straightness of the many conspicuous outside corners. These same sawtooth facades resulted in corners that were less than 90 degrees, which created odd brick intersections (as the architect did not want to use cut brick or specially shaped brick) that were difficult to keep plumb. The brick panel below each window is constructed of running bond soldiers that required great care to build with consistent mortar joints and keep from tilting.


The unconventional brick façade has alternating sections with distinct arrangements of brick that are more dramatic at lower levels but flatten out at higher elevations. The first two floors contained sawtooth brick whereby one end is flush with the head joint and the other end is kicked out of plane 1-1/4”. The sawtooth brick created corners that were difficult to draw, much less build. The bonded oblique inside corner constructed of sawtooth brick with no defined vertical joint was unique. Pigeon-holed screen walls, which are normally complicated, were further complicated by the utilization of sawtooth brick which created skewed openings.


All of the aforementioned conditions were made more challenging with the incorporation of 1” tall bed joints and 5/8” wide head joints using wood mold modular brick having rough faces and edges. This places a premium on craftsmanship as the laying of the brick must be neat so as not to smear mortar into the crude brick faces when laying and tooling the oversized joints. Also, the joints must be tooled well the first time as reworking mortar joints of this size would radically change the color.


Proper cleaning of the façade was critical as its absorbent wood mold brick, sawtooth brick pattern, pigeon holed privacy fence, odd corners and large mortar joints required it. The finishing touch was the multi-story terra cotta brise soleil which was expertly coordinated and installed. All miscellaneous steel support and attachments were carefully drawn, engineered and installed prior to receiving the panels from Germany. With almost no room for field adjustment, the installation had to be perfect. The fragile units were transported, hoisted and installed without damage. They complement the masonry work, provide additional sun screening for the lower levels and help achieve a LEED Silver standard for the project.

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