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Went yesterday and it was amazing.  Very well done. The architecture, the exhibits, everything.  Here are some photos:            

A couple of pics of the ceiling in the main atrium, taken from the third floor. As you can see, there’s tons of natural light augmented with some artificial light. I can’t wait to see this building on

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  • 2 weeks later...

Planning Commission just granted 0' lot line variance on Montrose for new Glassell. Showed some renderings. New building as described earlier in the thread; second floor then cantilevers out toward Montrose.

 

Rep said construction in 2015; total campus finished 2019.

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2019?!? why so long? link to the renderings/planning commission documents?

 

Don't think they're online yet.

 

As for why so long?

This is a large project, and this will be built to a significantly higher standard than most of the other new construction going up around town. Quality takes time.

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Easy answer: Calatrava is an engineer 1st, who uses expense high performance coatings on all his work along with the obvious structural gymnastics. Holl builds conventional bldgs with an emphasis on spatial design (especially moody lighting effects) versus Calatrava's raw "bird in flight" designs.

I'm sure after the Beck bldg experience, the MFAH board of directors were probably not concerned about getting another "collection" piece; rather than it is seeking a pragmatic yet elegant solution to unite and feature the ad-hoc, period-esque additions over the years.

Edit: Expect a 100 year bldg.

Edited by infinite_jim
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Easy answer: Calatrava is an engineer 1st, who uses expense high performance coatings on all his work along with the obvious structural gymnastics. Holl builds conventional bldgs with an emphasis on spatial design (especially moody lighting effects) versus Calatrava's raw "bird in flight" designs.

I'm sure after the Beck bldg experience, the MFAH board of directors were probably not concerned about getting another "collection" piece; rather than it is seeking a pragmatic yet elegant solution to unite and feature the ad-hoc, period-esque additions over the years.

Edit: Expect a 100 year bldg.

 

From the "cheese" illustration, it seemed like Holl's ideas were less conventional and more of the Calatrava variety.

 

What do you mean by "collection piece" regarding the Beck bldg.?  I admit I don't know much about the internal MFAH discussions about all this stuff.

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From the "cheese" illustration, it seemed like Holl's ideas were less conventional and more of the Calatrava variety.

 

What do you mean by "collection piece" regarding the Beck bldg.?  I admit I don't know much about the internal MFAH discussions about all this stuff.

That's just a parti sketch, like a rendering it's not a social contract. Rather it's a way for an architect to crystallize their thoughts on paper which does not reflect structural realities; that's what I meant by saying that Calatrava is "an engineer 1st." 

 

Shorter: Holl is more humanist based, Calatrava is more aesthetic oriented (like comparing Stephen King books to Stanley Kubrick films respectively).

 

"Collection" pieces is a way of describing cities as living museums with signature bldgs by starchitects. Collect them all!

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Am I looking at this right?  The big inverted triangle is the new Glassel school, not the museum, right?  In the site plan the eventual new museum wing would be the grayed out box?

 

Not sure.  Yes.   No.  (The grayed out box is the church.)

Edited by Houston19514
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Not sure.  Yes.   No.  (The grayed out box is the church.)

 

Thank you sir.  So the museum will be in the light gray area on the bottom right.  

 

I'm sorry to see the old Glassel go.  I've always liked it.  It is probably safe to say the new museum wing will be designed to harmonize with the upside-down triangle in the rendering.  Hmmm..

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Thank you sir.  So the museum will be in the light gray area on the bottom right.  

 

Actually, the new museum building will be in the white area at the far bottom right.  (Just a very tiny corner of it is shown on this site plan.)

 

 

As an aside, I happened by there in the past week.  The utility relocation work is underway.

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That's just a parti sketch, like a rendering it's not a social contract. Rather it's a way for an architect to crystallize their thoughts on paper which does not reflect structural realities; that's what I meant by saying that Calatrava is "an engineer 1st." 

 

Shorter: Holl is more humanist based, Calatrava is more aesthetic oriented (like comparing Stephen King books to Stanley Kubrick films respectively).

 

"Collection" pieces is a way of describing cities as living museums with signature bldgs by starchitects. Collect them all!

 

No, it's not a "social contract," but it gives some idea of the direction the architect is headed, which seems to me like something boldly sculptural and non-conventional. A "collection piece," you might say.

 

I'm not sure what you mean by humanist based vs. aesthetic oriented.

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No, it's not a "social contract," but it gives some idea of the direction the architect is headed, which seems to me like something boldly sculptural and non-conventional. A "collection piece," you might say.

 

I'm not sure what you mean by humanist based vs. aesthetic oriented.

You're mixing up the industry term "conventional" to mean an unexpected design, I'm talking about conventional bldg structures of steel frame and metal panel cladding; nothing really special about building this way these days. Calatrava does unconventional structures, your first clue is his project cost overruns, and the tortured geometry of his structures; lots of high tension cables along with massive customized, bent tubular steel. All of this needs sophisitcated fabrication work, whereas most of Holl's stuff is off-the-shelf or out of a Sweet's catalog.

The only wild stuff of Holl's I can think of off the top of my head is when he brought in Lebbeus Woods on a project in China (Woods' only build project btw).

@Subdude You can see the northwest corner of the new museum's footprint in the lower right corner of the Glassel site plan so we can see that the existing church's parking lot will shrink to their PL with a ~5' grassy perimeter surrounding the new museum.

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You're mixing up the industry term "conventional" to mean an unexpected design, I'm talking about conventional bldg structures of steel frame and metal panel cladding; nothing really special about building this way these days. Calatrava does unconventional structures, your first clue is his project cost overruns, and the tortured geometry of his structures; lots of high tension cables along with massive customized, bent tubular steel. All of this needs sophisitcated fabrication work, whereas most of Holl's stuff is off-the-shelf or out of a Sweet's catalog.

The only wild stuff of Holl's I can think of off the top of my head is when he brought in Lebbeus Woods on a project in China (Woods' only build project btw).

 

 

What am I mixing the term "conventional" up with? I believe I've been using conventional the same way you are when you say "Calatrava does unconventional structures."

 

As far as I can tell from the rendering (and I know it's not final), this will be an unconventional structure.  I don't know what other conclusion one could draw from the abstract forms depicted.

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You guys are using different definitions of the word structure.

 

H-Town Man: You're talking about the building's form, which can be completely unconventional while still using off-the-shelf (and therefor less expensive) structural components. Architects like Calatrava create innovative structural systems that themselves dictate the form. Everything has to be custom made.

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Okay, that's helpful. But don't rather abstract forms drive up maintenance costs and cost overruns regardless of what materials are used? It seems like the further away you get from the rectangular prism into non-Euclidean geometry (which is what the concept sketches seem like), the more likely you are to have these kinds of problems, regardless of what materials you use.

 

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Higher costs than the average building? Possibly, but relying on proven technologies and processes, even while being innovative with their use, is just not likely to result in the same kinds of problems you get in Calatrava's (or, going furth back, Wright's) buildings.

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Easy answer: Calatrava is an engineer 1st, who uses expense high performance coatings on all his work along with the obvious structural gymnastics. Holl builds conventional bldgs with an emphasis on spatial design (especially moody lighting effects) versus Calatrava's raw "bird in flight" designs.

I'm sure after the Beck bldg experience, the MFAH board of directors were probably not concerned about getting another "collection" piece; rather than it is seeking a pragmatic yet elegant solution to unite and feature the ad-hoc, period-esque additions over the years.

Edit: Expect a 100 year bldg.

 

How do you mean a 100 year building?

 

You make an interesting point about what MFAH is looking for.  Largely because of the Bilbao effect, it seems that museums in general face a high expectation level for their architecture, which in turn has contributed to the “starchitect” phenomenon.  MFAH fell hard for that with Moneo for the Beck addition, and I think they were burned by the negative reaction to the resulting design. 

 

To your point, perhaps they would do well to go for something very subdued and unassuming for the new wing and try to lower expectations for a whiz-bang design.  Architecturally, there probably isn’t a lot that can be done to unify the different additions, so a sensible strategy might be to focus on simply not clashing.

 

 

It is interesting that museums so often need to feel the need to be architectural statements, compared to most other categories of structures.  I suppose it is because they house Art, and thus the building must be Art as well.  

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How do you mean a 100 year building?

 

You make an interesting point about what MFAH is looking for.  Largely because of the Bilbao effect, it seems that museums in general face a high expectation level for their architecture, which in turn has contributed to the “starchitect” phenomenon.  MFAH fell hard for that with Moneo for the Beck addition, and I think they were burned by the negative reaction to the resulting design. 

 

To your point, perhaps they would do well to go for something very subdued and unassuming for the new wing and try to lower expectations for a whiz-bang design.  Architecturally, there probably isn’t a lot that can be done to unify the different additions, so a sensible strategy might be to focus on simply not clashing.

 

 

It is interesting that museums so often need to feel the need to be architectural statements, compared to most other categories of structures.  I suppose it is because they house Art, and thus the building must be Art as well.  

 

Good thoughts.  Although, at least from the outside, I thought the Moneo design was subdued and unassuming.  The inside I think is great though.

 

One thing I would like, even if it stamps me as having vulgar tastes: I want something postcard-worthy out of this design.  Right now there's really not a view of the MFAH that you can put on a postcard for someone who isn't into modernism or doesn't know a lot about architecture and have it be interesting.  This is definitely not the case for any of the museums that we want to compete with.  It says something that the view of itself that MFAH usually advertises is an aerial, showing rooftops.  I want our last museum building to be memorable, distinctive, splashy, so you can stand at the corner of Main and Binz and not feel you're surrounded by boxes.

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 I want our last museum building to be memorable, distinctive, splashy, so you can stand at the corner of Main and Binz and not feel you're surrounded by boxes.

 

I find it interesting that public architecture in Houston is rarely splashy, in contrast to our our neighbor to the north.  When they needed more space for their municipal offices, they went to I.M. Pei for a flashy building to replace their small, but cute classical city hall.  More or less at the same time, we decided to preserve our mediocre (in my opinion) Art Deco city hall and just build an annex in the Brutalist style, which was fashionable at the time.   Ironically (correct me if I'm wrong), but our annex seems like a cheap imitation of Pei's Boston City Hall.  Not that I'm such a big fan of Brutalist architecture, I just think it's interesting to consider the attitudes of our two cities, in terms of how strongly we are willing to pony up to pay for prime examples of whatever architecture fads are considered "cool" at the moment.

 

I like it that the recent museum designs in Houston (Piano's and Moneo's) get good reviews from some educated sources, despite not being flashy.  I like them, too.  But ... the relict teenager in me still yearns for a Kodak-moment (read postcard) edifice sometimes.  Is this feeling necessarily a bad thing?  I recall someone north of us referring to their Calatrava bridge as their city's Eiffel Tower.  Comparisons like that can sound kinda silly (especially when taken out of context, like here), but having comparisons like that does seem to fulfill a common human need.

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I find it interesting that public architecture in Houston is rarely splashy, in contrast to our our neighbor to the north.  When they needed more space for their municipal offices, they went to I.M. Pei for a flashy building to replace their small, but cute classical city hall.  More or less at the same time, we decided to preserve our mediocre (in my opinion) Art Deco city hall and just build an annex in the Brutalist style, which was fashionable at the time.   Ironically (correct me if I'm wrong), but our annex seems like a cheap imitation of Pei's Boston City Hall.  Not that I'm such a big fan of Brutalist architecture, I just think it's interesting to consider the attitudes of our two cities, in terms of how strongly we are willing to pony up to pay for prime examples of whatever architecture fads are considered "cool" at the moment.

 

I like it that the recent museum designs in Houston (Piano's and Moneo's) get good reviews from some educated sources, despite not being flashy.  I like them, too.  But ... the relict teenager in me still yearns for a Kodak-moment (read postcard) edifice sometimes.  Is this feeling necessarily a bad thing?  I recall someone north of us referring to their Calatrava bridge as their city's Eiffel Tower.  Comparisons like that can sound kinda silly (especially when taken out of context, like here), but having comparisons like that does seem to fulfill a common human need.

 

No, this 'relic teenager' yearning/feeling for post card edifices is not a bad thing in any way. Houston definitely needs some more splash but dear God I hope THIS? isn't what they have in mind with the inverted triangle design for the new Glassell School of Art building.

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I like it that the recent museum designs in Houston (Piano's and Moneo's) get good reviews from some educated sources, despite not being flashy.

 

Piano's design has been universally praised.  The Moneo wing however was much panned.  The issues weren't splashiness per se, they were more with it's relationship to the original wings (or lack of it), tacky detailing, relationship to the street (or lack of it), and overall big-box demeanor.  That is why going the starchitect route backfired on MFAH, and why I would be comfortable with a non-postcard-worthy new wing. 

 

I don't have a problem at all with occasional postcard-worthy architecture, I just don't think that MFAH is necessarily the right venue for it.

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I'm definitely glad we saved and renovated our late-1930s city hall.  I enjoy the Art Deco aspect, even if its not the most spectacular example of that style.  OTOH, it is also interesting in its use of fossiliferous limestone on the facade ... which one also sees on buildings on the UH main campus and the San Jacinto Monument.  I haven't noticed that elsewhere in my travels; does anyone know if that was more from of a Texas thing in those years?

 

On a related note:  the Julia Ideson Building next door to City Hall has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.  I'm so glad we still have it; we've lost so many cool old buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries here.  

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  • 2 months later...

Construction barricades that have created a traffic bottleneck on Montrose Boulevard in the Museum District are the earliest signs of progress coming to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

While the capital campaign for the museum's forthcoming expansion project - including a new building devoted to contemporary art - is still in the quiet phase, infrastructure work has begun on water mains and power lines in the area.

Some of the underground construction is "just necessary repairs" that will improve electricity in existing buildings, director Gary Tinterow said.

As for the new building coming from Steven Holl Architects, he said, "Everything is still Silly Putty at this point; still mutable as we test assumptions and look at the budget and materials."

Tinterow hopes to unveil plans for the new building by the end of 2014, "maybe early fall."

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/entertainment/arts-theater/article/Local-Art-scene-builds-on-creativity-5096673.php?cmpid=btfpm#/1

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  • 1 year later...

Great news! Tomorrow the MFAH will unveil renderings and a full explanation for the new additions to the campus to the local media..

Then later in the week they'll make the presentation in NYC, to the national and international press.

They're going to open up the sculpture garden to the site and from my source the project will be more open with public spaces.

Cant wait to see whats going up! 

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The person who told me has images but when I asked if I could see them the source said they didn't have their phone on them. Said it was amazing!

I asked them to forward me an image and if I get one today I'll definitely pass it on.

That was the best news I've heard this year!

Edited by bobruss
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