Martel Hall

the "unofficial" Duncan Hall web site

Rice University
Houston, Texas, USA

Martel Hall is Duncan Hall's main open space. This large room (roughly seventy-five by fifty-five feet and fifty-six feet tall) forms the heart of the building's public space.

On the first floor, it is ringed with classrooms, lecture halls, an auditorium, and two conference rooms. On the second floor, it is ringed with offices. On the third floor, it is ringed with more meeting rooms-two conference rooms and a large, open, multipurpose room.

At the clearstory level (the fourth floor), Martel Hall is ringed with large windows that let in the bright Texas sun. This creates a space where natural light competes with the irregular artificial light.

This view, taken from the north wing, third floor, shows both the terazzo floor and the decorated ceiling. The ceiling is described elsewhere.

The five-colored terazzo floor contains only Texas-quarried stone. Like the ceiling, it is inscribed with a decoration that tells part of the building's story. The floor explicitly represents the river valley. It begins with a whirling pool in the West Hall, flows down the street, under the bridges at the east end of the street, and out through the delta of Martel Hall to the ocean (represented by the broken infinity shown in this view).

This view shows Martel Hall as seen from the second floor, southeast corner (outside room 2063). It shows the main stair, which rises through the room to the second and third floors. The stair is set at forty-five degrees off of the Hall's primary axis. This lets it assume a position of importance in the room, dominating the main axis, without obscuring the view through the room along the axis. It also ties the building's two central axes together, as the second-floor to third-floor stair runs up to the long axis through the building.

At the base of the stair, you can see the bridge and the opening into the street. At the top of the room, you can see the "log and saddle" detail that sets the room off from the other eight "rooms" of the building.

The second and third floors feature prominent outworking balconies that cantilever out over the open space. The balconies have four large, boxy chairs and a four-foot square table.

Mounted on the columns are uplights that illuminate the ceiling. These flourescent fixtures provide a gentle uplight on the ceiling. This picture clearly shows the light shining on the columns that flank the street.