'Rice was, perhaps, the James Joyce of structural engineering. His poetic invention, his ability to turn accepted ideas on their head and his rigorous mathematical and philosophical logic made him one of the most sought-after engineers of our times'
Jonathan Glancey
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The Menil Collection
Houston
1982
These sketchbook extracts begin with the Menil gallery, a project that exemplified Peter Rice's creative engagement with an array of materials that would produce the crafted appearance he valued. Here, working with Renzo Piano, the trusses developed combined ductile iron pieces with ferrocement leaves.

Menil Gallery Menil Gallery
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The Menil Collection
Houston
1982
The bouncing of daylight off at least two surfaces through the gap between adjacent ferrocement ‘leaves’ required thought about the leaf geometry.

Menil Gallery Menil Gallery
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The Menil Collection
Houston
1982
The skeletal truss that worked in conjunction with the ‘leaves’ had to be in a suitable form of iron to be cast and meet performance requirements.

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The Menil Collection
Houston
1982
Right hand page shows Peter Rice's original sketch for the leaf at Menil overlain on the mould used to form the ferrocement leaf.
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Pabellón del Futuro
(Pavilion of the Future)

Seville Expo ‘92
1989
This was a project in conjunction with MBM in which standard size blocks of Rosa Porina stone were post tensioned by the weight of the roof to give an elegant and delicate reference to ruined cathedrals.

Pabelon del Futoro, Lisbon Expo Pabelon del Futoro, Lisbon Expo
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11 Cover
Pabellón del Futuro
(Pavilion of the Future)

Seville Expo ‘92
1989
The sketch becomes a working drawing.
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13 Cover
Pabellón del Futuro
(Pavilion of the Future)

Seville Expo ‘92
1989
The sketch becomes a reality.

We have overlain Peter Rice's original sketch on the completed project.

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15 Cover
Centre Pompidou
Paris
1971
This is an extract from the sketchbook looking at how the staircase would be hung from the main frame of Pompidou.

Centre Pompidou Centre Pompidou Centre Pompidou
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Centre Pompidou
Paris
1971
Peter Rice’s work on the tapering gerberette at Beaubourg was not so much to do with the see-saw mechanism (Gerber beam action), but the material from which the gerberette was to be made – hand crafted and designed, unconventially using fracture mechanics.

Centre Pompidou Centre Pompidou
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La Villette
Paris
1981
In order to explain the logic for the structure at La Villette, Peter Rice outlined the three structural elements involved. Here are his original notes notes on the design principles.

La Villette La Villette

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La Villette
Paris
1981
The major transom trusses at La Villette had to resist wind loads.

La Villette La Villette
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La Villette
Paris
1981
The rotule connector to the glazing was the key to considerable increase in load-carrying capacity of a structural glass element. Here the sketch looks at how the minor transom truss would work and recognises that the glass wall could be a stiff sheet that would prevent the truss flipping out of plane.

La Villette
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Stansted Airport
London
1981
For the Stansted airport structure one of the issues that needed to be addressed was deflections overall and in adjacent tree structures. This sketch is a simple summary of the loading and consequent deflections due to gravity loadings and sway.

Stansted Airport Stansted Airport
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Stansted Airport
London
1981
Stansted Airport Stansted Airport
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Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 3
Paris
1988
At Paris CdG slender fingers were to support the structure and to define an array of radiating lines on the separated embarkation and disembarkation levels.

La Villette La Villette
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Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 3
Paris
1988
At Paris CdG slender fingers were to support the structure and to define an array of radiating lines on the separated embarkation and disembarkation levels.

La Villette La Villette
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Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 3
Paris
1988
At Paris CdG slender fingers were to support the structure and to define an array of radiating lines on the separated embarkation and disembarkation levels.
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Credits

Concept and content by Andre Brown, Professor of Architecture at the University of Liverpool and designed by his colleague Martin Winchester, for the exhibition ‘Traces of Peter Rice’, Arup, Phase 2, London, November 2012

With thanks to Rob Updegraff and J. Philip O’Kane.

Pages from Peter Rice’s sketchbooks reproduced with kind permission of Kieran Rice
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Design © 2012
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