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Museum of Fine Arts Houston Expansion

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Haha, it means I've been in grad school too long.

Basically- how do you make two city blocks separated by a street feel like a single continuous experience? How do you dissolve the boundary created by the street?

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Could someone explain to me the basic elements that an architect would be looking to achieve in this case? I recognize that architectural design is a creative endeavor, but are there some standards that would be followed in a case like this? I'm not talking about codes or regulations, but instead design standards that would be followed in order to achieve the effect that is sought.

I'd like to better understand how an architect would even think to create a design in this case.

For what it's worth: Of the above designs, I really like the exteriors of the Herning and Kiasma, but not the Nelson-Atkins addition or the LA Museum of Natural History. The Nelson-Atkins addition just seems like it's got too much contrast with the other building (I assume that's what's next-door). I don't care for that thing jutting out of the LA museum (and I recognize that it's still in the design phase). But, on the other hand, the Herning really seems to fit well in that space, and the Kiasma is a beautiful, modern looking building in an urban space.

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Pretty uninspiring stuff, especially the one in Kansas City that just looks cheap and tacked on. Still, I'm glad MFAH didn't go the 'starchitect' route. I always thought the Beck addition was an awful design that they signed off on to get the name.

i actually agree with your opinion that the KC one looks rather uninspired (at least it does in that photo) but according to the culturemap article that came out last week, that building is considered one of the most architecturally significant designs of the past decade. i guess that just goes to show how much we know :lol:

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The (KC) Nelson-Atkins' corrugated siding stuff is called channel glass, and modernist architects like it because it wasn't around in the era of modernism so to them it looks un-unoriginal.

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They also like it because it can span lengths with a pretty free hand.

www.bendheimwall.com/press/pdf/MSU-Ath-Biz_6-09.pdf

Also, at $130/ft^2, what it does with light is not any more special'n what else you could do; it speaks of indulgently secure clients who didn't demand pedestrian x,y, and z for all of that investment. Artist eyes love to see potent statements achieved with restraint, even though to me it looks like spelling things out all too densely. Part of the reason that tastes somehow follow the avant garde is that institutions in every-tier cities feel the need to be followed by other tastemakers, and the only way to play It safe is to bend rules somebody else is already bending. If your principles are too unexpected we won't know whether to applaud or blow them off.* Channel glass' use and diseconomy sort of compounds the 'envy me' ability of the client-and-designer's design.

*and unfortunately I think Snohetta was considered mostly for that reason, and was lost after shortlisting largely because its San Francisco unveiling hasn't been more immediately envied.

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I want to note that I don't make fun of anyone, and, while both they and I are in earnest, I do know that this commission is not willing to take real risks (else they wouldn't have hired a recognized expert in taking expected risks).

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http://tmagazine.blo...-museum-of-art/

http://www.washingto...m-doubles-size/

Tel Aviv, like Houston, is a creature of the 20th Century, a center of creation, and a city in love with the future. Its complex of buildings for the encounter of artwork took on the same challenge that ours is about to, and like ours, they hired an intelligent person's architect. But I think we run the risk of losing the heart of encounter with art by doing what they did. They grew by turning their back on the historic seaport from which they wanted to part ways; we likewise distanced our selves from Galveston. Their art world continues to be a world apart from what would nurture it. I think ours even more than old Jaffa/Joppa deserves to be a place of pilgrimage, where people have all come a little way wondering. I think it better rounds out the MFAH in the imagination to have this emplacement stand separately. I'd like to see Holl blur the line between sculpture garden and parking lot with a system of spaces devoted to permanent and temporary installation, but not too much in the way of shelters. I'd love to see him propose to spread out over & above the brewery at Sheppard Park in G-town. Let it be a stilted foundation and then, on ground lease, let private concerns come in and renovate around and underneath /afterward/.

Edited by strickn

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The (KC) Nelson-Atkins' corrugated siding stuff is called channel glass, and modernist architects like it because it wasn't around in the era of modernism so to them it looks un-unoriginal.

To me it looks like nothing so much as a self-storage unit one would see alongside a freeway.

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To me it looks like nothing so much as a self-storage unit one would see alongside a freeway.

Subdude, you clearly don't understand the incredible importance of the aluminum-siding school of architectural thought. ;)

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I think it better rounds out the MFAH in the imagination to have this emplacement stand separately. I'd like to see Holl blur the line between sculpture garden and parking lot with a system of spaces devoted to permanent and temporary installation, but not too much in the way of shelters. I'd love to see him propose to spread out over & above the brewery at Sheppard Park in G-town. Let it be a stilted foundation and then, on ground lease, let private concerns come in and renovate around and underneath /afterward/.

strickn, what is the "brewery at Sheppard Park in G-town?"

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Ok, I'm trying to understand what you're proposing. It sounds like you think the MFAH should consider linking its "campus" to an old industrial building in Galveston? And, this would reverse Houston "turning its back" on the "historic seaport from which (it) wanted to part ways?" Another part of your proposal is that Holl "blur the line between sculpture garden and parking lot with a system of spaces devoted to permanent and temporary installation." Is this what you would see be accomplished by inhabiting the old Galveston brewery?

I'm a little confused, but I think I like your thinking. Please explain.

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Keep the parking lot - just pick some of its spaces to be rotating collections, construction, and so forth. We pull up and come and go among them. There could still be 20 or more slots along Main, along the garden wall, and connecting the two, which have a more permanent interface and a bit of street-wall enclosure, but all in all I s'pose it is one solution to 'dissolving the boundary' brought up by HAIF above.

And making this new part of the Fine Arts Houston complex be as diffuse as its hometown experience.

For all of our casual glory, though, there's a definable advantage that Galveston has. I don't want to boil it down to just San Francisco's, the feeling of being beautifully vulnerable. This press of intense weathering and certainty of natural disaster is a special light of creative destruction on both places I can come by in no other way than through being put on the spot of 'here forever, gone tomorrow' with each visit. I think having a person yield in that way among art is a worthwhile yield for Galveston to sow, but I think it's more than that, and I'll reflect some more about it.

And I think the building is best left alone, and left as an empty case beneath the museum-parts to brew other users.

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I get the idea of having art, quality, museum-standard art showcased in a place that's vulnerable and disaster-prone. New Orleans' Prospect Biennials http://www.prospectneworleans.org/ and P.S.1 http://momaps1.org/ in Queens, NYC have been just that. For P1 and P2 (New Orleans), the curators use temporary spaces - abandoned buildings, parking lots, industrial manufacturing yards - as venues to display, often site specific, art pieces by some of the most renowned contemporary artists in the world. It's spectacular, really, to see pieces that would normally be hung in giant, billion-dollar white boxes sitting so accessibly in spaces crusty with crime and ridden with weeds. P.S.1 is housed in a beat up (well, used to be) old public school far from the establishment on the Upper East Side. Yet, MoMA purchased P.S.1, I believe, to do something similar to what you are proposing - reach out to artists and other segments of the population, that might not venture too frequently to the shiny, expensive, established art museums.

But, perhaps, this idea of a museum in Galveston should be something separate. The location of the current MFAH, I believe, needs the type of unification the prospectus outlines. The public spaces need to be better oriented, there need to be more comfortable and casual spaces, there need to be more and better food options, there needs to be additional theater space, etc.

Perhaps the MFAH could partner with an institution to establish a satellite venue. Or, even better, let an organization with no ties to a big established art institution open up in Galveston and catch the attention of the establishment.

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Keep the parking lot - just pick some of its spaces to be rotating collections, construction, and so forth. We pull up and come and go among them. There could still be 20 or more slots along Main, along the garden wall, and connecting the two, which have a more permanent interface and a bit of street-wall enclosure, but all in all I s'pose it is one solution to 'dissolving the boundary' brought up by HAIF above. And making this new part of the Fine Arts Houston complex be as diffuse as its hometown experience.

As for the parking spaces with rotating collections and blending the boundary, I believe smaller organizations could/should also best fill this role. As cool as it would be for an institution like the MFAH to embark on an unconventional manner in which to display art, I think independent art spaces are the way to go. Did you ever visit Artstorm, or have you ever visited the Johanna or Skydive? These are just a few of the more experimental, temporary, and/or unconventional art spaces close to or in the Museum District. There are also organizations such as No Longer Empty and others that inhabit empty storefronts for temporary exhibits http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/culture/no-vacancy-turning-empty-spaces-into-cultural-pop-ups/.

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Subdude, you clearly don't understand the incredible importance of the aluminum-siding school of architectural thought. ;)

Philistine that I am. ^_^

I actually had a long discussion about the MFAH expansion with a friend who is a trained (but not practicing) architect and former architecture instructor. His view was that a new building should not attempt to mimic the styles of the older structures, so as to be true its own era, or whatnot. That said, if a goal were to somehow unify the complex, he thought that the way to do it would be to have the new building comparable in scale with the old ones. He thought that having a new building as high as the Brown Pavilion would provide sufficient architectural unity, and illustrated this with some historic old building in Paris that had had a modern wing appended, although at about the same height.

Personally, I think this is a bit of bosh. The annex to the Parisian building just looked trashy and out of place, like the addition to the Kansas City art museum above. In the case of MFAH, I would vote for some design continuity with the Brown Pavilion. Not making the design identical, but close enough that the connection would be apparent. (I realize now however that among the serious architectural crowd the idea of re-using old styles is tantamount to heresy, especially in a building that is Consecrated to Art.) One great thing about the Brown Pavilion design is its sweep around the curve on Bissonnet. To the extent possible by the limited footprint, a new building should also follow the curve to reinforce the connection with the older galleries.

So many commissions for major public buildings in Houston have turned out as disappointments. I really hope this one comes out first-rate.

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I just have a hunch that the path Subdude is describing for a good outcome is exactly the one Tel Aviv has made: that those choices are calcifying in too many ways, to now-predictable result.

I'll talk about what more I see around Galveston Bay(than the patina of calamity) later in the day if the conversation hasn't changed too much.

Edited by strickn

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So does anybody here know about a redo for Houston's Museum of Fine Arts? Maybe a new Museum of Fine Arts? Well there is a competition and Morphosis Architects have this really amazing design for it, the link to the Exterior and Interior is down there. Like Marcus Allen said, "Looks like something from the new London." Get the London look Houston. 

 

Exterior:

 

 

http://vimeo.com/71473692

 

Interior:

 

http://vimeo.com/72231856

Edited by TowerSpotter

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The Museum was accepting submissions from several architecture firms to design a new addition.

 

http://houston.culturemap.com/news/home_design/07-10-11-the-museum-of-fine-arts-starchitect-design-competition-is-bold/

 

They made a decision in 2012 to go with Steven Holl Architects.

 

http://www.chron.com/default/article/MFAH-hires-Steven-Holl-Architects-to-design-2972381.php

Edited by The Pragmatist
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The Museum was accepting submissions from several architecture firms to design a new addition.

 

http://houston.culturemap.com/news/home_design/07-10-11-the-museum-of-fine-arts-starchitect-design-competition-is-bold/

 

They made a decision in 2012 to go with Steven Holl Architects.

 

http://www.chron.com/default/article/MFAH-hires-Steven-Holl-Architects-to-design-2972381.php

 

Cool I just searched them and saw some of their work.... Blown away by their work. I expect them to come out with a clean and modern design like Morphosis did with theirs. Hopefully it has the "The London Look".

 

 

Some of their Museum Work

 

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tWEe5Xe.jpg

Edited by TowerSpotter

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Whoa Tower.  I really enjoyed that.  Interesting Find.  I hope that Steven Holl comes up with something as interesting and significant.  I am very excited about what we will see.  There is a lot of money behind mfaH and it seems that the new Director is doing great things (big shoes to fill).

I believe that this one of the most exciting projects on the radar in Houston.

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Museum District Museums will have a lot of new adornments soon. 

1. New Wing/Streetscape @ mfaH (Steven Holl)

2. Enhancements to Menial Campus (Michael Van Valkenburgh) 

3. Centennial Garden/Hermann Park (Peter Bohlin)

4. Grand Gateway/Hermann Park

5. Huge New Wing at Natural Sciences Museum

6. Museum Walk (not sure what this all entails).

 

Am I missing anything?  I hope so. 

 

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Museum District Museums will have a lot of new adornments soon. 

1. New Wing/Streetscape @ mfaH (Steven Holl)

2. Enhancements to Menial Campus (Michael Van Valkenburgh) 

3. Centennial Garden/Hermann Park (Peter Bohlin)

4. Grand Gateway/Hermann Park

5. Huge New Wing at Natural Sciences Museum

6. Museum Walk (not sure what this all entails).

 

Am I missing anything?  I hope so. 

 

I think a read something about a $5 million renovation/enhacement for Hermann Park not to long ago. 

Edited by TowerSpotter

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^I am pretty sure that that is the Grand Gateway Project, which just broke ground.  Focus is on the area between the Fountain and Sam Houston.  I think that this is part of the Museum Walk, which is supposed to unify the Museum District assets. 

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I have no info on this. But me senses are telling me that we will hear something on this soon. Anyone else sense anything?

 

Steven Holl did a presentation to the staff a couple of months ago and showed a bunch of (amazing) renderings for the new contemporary building, the new Glassell, new underground walkways and performance spaces, and new plazas. We should see more refined images soon, as well as the announcement of a new building on top of the existing museum parking garage. 

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Steven Holl did a presentation to the staff a couple of months ago and showed a bunch of (amazing) renderings for the new contemporary building, the new Glassell, new underground walkways and performance spaces, and new plazas. We should see more refined images soon, as well as the announcement of a new building on top of the existing museum parking garage. 

 

Wow.  Very interesting and exciting.

 

Question:  Did you really mean to say new building on top of the existing museum parking garage?  The plan had been for the new building to be on top of the existing parking lot?  Has that plan changed or are they planning 2 new buildings?

Edited by Houston19514

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Wow.  Very interesting and exciting.

 

Question:  Did you really mean to say new building on top of the existing museum parking garage?  The plan had been for the new building to be on top of the existing parking lot?  Has that plan changed or are they planning 2 new buildings?

 

............i totally missed that.  he did actually say an "announcement of a new building on top of the existing museum parking garage."  this would definitely be news!

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There will be multiple buildings, one of which will be on top of the existing parking garage. Steven Holl is not the architect of that building. The architect should be announced soon...hint, grocery store. Holl's buildings will be on the north side of Bissonnet/Binz, replacing the surface lot and the current Glassell building. I can just say that these buildings will be breathtaking.

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There will be multiple buildings, one of which will be on top of the existing parking garage. Steven Holl is not the architect of that building. The architect should be announced soon...hint, grocery store. Holl's buildings will be on the north side of Bissonnet/Binz, replacing the surface lot and the current Glassell building. I can just say that these buildings will be breathtaking.

I like this game.

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A little more info, courtesy of First Presbyterian Church:

 

As we have known, the main new building will be on the site of the current surface parking lot between the MFAH's Law Building and First Presbyterian Church.  MFAH also apparently plans to build a new Glassell School building (Query, will this replace or be in addition to the current Glassell)?   The new Glassell School and underground parking facility will be to the west of First Presbyterian, presumably on what is currently the Glassell's surface lot.  The MFAH is seeking to acquire the portion of the Roseland Street right of way that abuts the back of that lot.

 

The action is to start this fall, with the relocation of the church's utilities, followed by the relocation of the Museum's utilities and the construction of the new Glassell School and underground parking facility.  Then the new building and underground parking on the Main/Bissonnet lot.

 

The Museum is in the quiet phase of their capital campaign (that's when they take the plans to the major donors and and get the big money gifts).  We'll hear a lot more about it when they get to the public phase of the capital campaign.

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(Query, will this replace or be in addition to the current Glassell)?   

 

The current Glassell building will be torn down and in its place will be a new courtyard for the new building which will be built in the current parking lot to the north and east of the current building. The new Glassell building's design currently has a sloped green roof that connects to the sculpture garden. That could all change with cost, but it's pretty freakin' awesome looking. 

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The current Glassell building will be torn down and in its place will be a new courtyard for the new building which will be built in the current parking lot to the north and east of the current building. The new Glassell building's design currently has a sloped green roof that connects to the sculpture garden. That could all change with cost, but it's pretty freakin' awesome looking. 

 

Sweet!  Man, this is sounding really exciting!

 

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And by a designer whose firsthand soaking-up of locality probably began since 2011...  I would have liked to see what Chung and Chuong Nguyen, architects with a deeper sense of Houston, would have formed here.  Probably something less monolithic or hammily organic.

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And by a designer whose firsthand soaking-up of locality probably began since 2011... I would have liked to see what Chung and Chuong Nguyen, architects with a deeper sense of Houston, would have formed here. Probably something less monolithic or hammily organic.

I take it then that you've actually seen the design since you're criticizing it. Can you provide some more detail about it?

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And by a designer whose firsthand soaking-up of locality probably began since 2011...  I would have liked to see what Chung and Chuong Nguyen, architects with a deeper sense of Houston, would have formed here.  Probably something less monolithic or hammily organic.

 

"Hammily organic" is hard to interpret.  Can you elaborate?

 

On the more general topic, it seems to me that a lot of people here would like to see a showy, starchitect-style building here.  I admit to feeling a pull in that direction, as well.  But ... I also would not want something that was shiny and flashy when it was built, while ultimately being painful to look at and/or an embarrassment later on ...

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I saw, or heard or whatever, the Finnish theorist Juhani Pallasmaa lecture a few years ago.  I've heard he has big influence on Holl.

 

Pallasmaa made no sense to me at all, but Holl says, "Architecture depends on intuition."  He makes intuitive sketches using watercolors, and because he calls the shots, the firm details them into final form.  "So they go from my watercolor directly into a 3D computer drawing. That drawing goes into our 3D printer and in a matter of, say, twelve hours, in the time that I’m flying, I can have a model waiting for me when I arrive back at the office."  He has six people to do that.  Anyway, he has already auctioned off a concept drawing of the intuitively rendered MFAH.  All I'm saying is, don't be gobsmacked if the new wing looks a little like a piece of cheese.

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As I think about Pallasmaa more, however, he seems like not a bad influence to have.  And I don't know that he would necessarily condone preserving the spirit of your first impression of a project, for instance.  You ought to read up on him, if only to understand better what we're about to see on Main Street.

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Have you been in any of his buildings? He tends to be responsive to site, and I love his detailing. A two year old watercolor massing sketch doesn't really say much.

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