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Museum of Fine Arts Houston Expansion


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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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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

Posted Images

 

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.  

Edited by ArchFan
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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

Edited by Urbannizer
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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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Better than I expected and we get a bonus Lake Flato, on the roof of the parking garage with restaurants at the train station!

Underground parking to open up the grounds. Its brilliant! I'm also very excited to her about the importance of the inside and the light with reference to Piano's treatment of light. SWTSIG. This is an unabashed "GAME CHANGER!"

 

There, I said it also.

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A big shoutout to Fayez Sarofim and the Kinders, along with the eight heavy lifters!

What a great city we are fortunate to live in with so many philanthropic families.

 

Can't wait to hear the buzz when this is announced in NYC later this week. Should be some nice print articles in Art in America, and ArtForum.

Probably some of the major arch. magazines. Like the Menil Drawing Institute, Buffalo Bayou park, the Herman Park gardens, and the announcement of Memorial Parks overhaul, these types of projects all are focused on quality of life issues that will go so far in creating a positive buzz for Houston and make all of our lives that much better!

 

Hurry up and make it happen! 

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Monarch,

I liked your observation about the building appearing to "Breath".  Below is Steven Holl's water color "vision" that his team had to follow...or do something with.  Mmmmkay...

 

So, the design does not seem to be a huge statement, but it is gorgeous.  MFAH is a fantastic museum with a very impressive collection.  The art is what should steal the show...and this collection can do it (Unlike the Getty in LA).  The interior/gallery spaces are what will count. Tintow knows his stuff.  He will make this one of the Best museums to view the art, that there is.  I am impressed by the restraint and elegance of the renderings/design.  Like many of the very fine museums in Texas, by which it will be gauged.   It will really showcase at night, which is one of Holl's trademarks.   

 

Was expecting more about the Landscaping concept.  I guess we now have that, also, to look forward to. 

 

 

Can't wait to see more renderings. 

post-11710-0-90206000-1421169040.jpg

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Those renderings are very sexy. This project looks like an absolute delight and, as the Chronicle article suggests, will help the MFAH act as a nice bridge between the Museum District and Rice. 

 

now if we can continue to bridge the gap between the museum district and midtown and midtown into downtown....

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Agree Sparrow.  Assuming this is open to the public, which I expect that it will be, The Glassell will definitely become an favorite icon for the city.  Makes the Museum buildings and Sculpture Garden feel a part of the Park.  This feature alone will pull a lot of people to the Museum District...even if they don't visit any of the museums. 

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I think this will most likely (pending how it looks as-built) be the biggest thing to happen to Houston architecturally in 30 years. It finally gives to our current (now fading) boom era the entry into the realm of elevated, soul-moving architecture that it has so far been missing, respectable designs by Pickard Chilton and others notwithstanding.

 

I only feel a sense of regret for my children. Their college savings will take a hit when I donate to this thing.

 

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I appreciate the slope on the Glassell not blocking the charming steeple of the First Presbyterian Church from the intersection of Montrose @ Bissonnet. Should make for an interesting photo op. The roof should also provide a unique view looking south towards Lindsey Plaza and the Obelisk. Who has a good Lens?

 

Thanks for the photos cloud!

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Cloud713 thanks for getting into the press conference and getting those images of the plans and other things that weren't in the Chronicle.

I liked what Mr. Tinterow said about his concern to produce the best space in the world to view art. His concern about lighting is very important .

Bravo !

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Heh, it was a little tricky. Seemed like parts of the museum were open for business but all the entrances around the van der Rohe buikding had staff standing outside and even police at the main entrance under a temporary tent/awning. We snuck down into the Cafe Express entrance from the street level and filed in line with a tour group and proceeded to follow them past a few staff members through the Turrell Tunnel and popped up into the other building where everything was at. Lol..

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Heh, it was a little tricky. Seemed like parts of the museum were open for business but all the entrances around the van der Rohe buikding had staff standing outside and even police at the main entrance under a temporary tent/awning. We snuck down into the Cafe Express entrance from the street level and filed in line with a tour group and proceeded to follow them past a few staff members through the Turrell Tunnel and popped up into the other building where everything was at. Lol..

 

cloud713 wins the "stealth haifer" of the year award!!  awesome!  thank you thank you!

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This is fantastic!  Will like to see more accurate renderings - though this is a Holl design, it'll probably be all wispy and foggy in appearance upon completion!  Like Lake+Flato's design too, given the context I'd say its a nice addition.  That and I understand the MFA has an undersized restoration area so this should bode them well.

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It's funny because I've always kinda thought of Steven Holl as Gehry-lite which is perfect for our city with buildings that try not to offend. Great selection of architects for this. As soon as I saw the name I knew this was in good hands. Was very surprised by the Lake | Flato design. I didn't even know they were a part of this whole scheme. Awesome stuff by them as well. They are really making a nice statement in this town so good for them, but if Lake | Flato was the opening act, Steven Holl is the big show. He is the quintessential architect of his generation (at least at his level) and always made statements with his architecture. I know he is very popular at my office as I've seen a few of the designers with Steven Holl books of his earlier works on their desks! It's certainly a bold design, but as seen from that night illustration it easily slips right into place. The roof sorta gives the whole building a carved stone type of look like the slopes on top were chiseled from the greater whole. It's more of an accent, but its a great detail. The building I'm most curious about is the new Glassell school! I had no idea they were going to redevelop that area as well and its actually the one that steals the show. The walkable roof from ground floor to terrace is something that is very popular in contemporary architecture and it's almost in every architecture student project, but to actually see it being executed in this city is simply amazing and will be the talk of the town for sure! Just the view alone....I can't wait! Sometimes in as architects especially us young architects we want to go out and just do the most crazy thing ever because surely that will start the next great revolution, but sometimes it more subtle and interesting to just give the scene a slight nudge. This does that. People have been throwing the word game changer, but I look at it more as sort of those life moment markers you see on facebook. This is this moment in Houston's life. It's a 'moment'. yeah not as sexy as gamechanger, but it really is a moment. The moment where Houston matured just a little bit more and grew up just a little bit more. Hopefully it goes even further than that.

 

So if it wasn't obvious from the statement above, I really love the design. Would like to see further info on this and maybe some more interior renders, but I'm definitely impressed. Lets go gaga over this and not the most underwhelming reveal of the day *cough*Amegy 20 story nothing that could be built anywhere in america therefore it's nothing very special and it's just a plain glass building with horns *cough*

 

P.S. Awesome inside work Cloud. Some news program needs to grab you dude! You do better investigative journalism than most. Great images and were far more interesting than just the renders. The models really add context and give the building more character.

Edited by Luminare
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thanks again guys.. it was pretty fun and i was pleased there was additional information posted. a press photographer kept taking pictures of me admiring the model/taking pictures of it, so who knows.. maybe ill end up in published photos attached to an article about the expansion. ive got to admit. i dont think ive ever bumped into a billionaire before tonight.. much less the richest man in Houston (lol, i backed/stood up to adjust when trying to get a close up of the model and it was Rich Kinder [the guy i overheard being told "theres your building".. i googled all the notable people after i got back from the event and realized who a few of them were] that i kind of brushed arms with. he was totally cool and after i tried to back away and let the museum guy continue with his little guided tour/presentation of the model for Kinder, Rich insisted i get the photo i was trying to take).

btw, since my pictures werent that great.. it was all set up in the front/Binz entrance to the van der Rohe building and for all i know the model/renderings might stay there for a little while if anyone is in the neighborhood and wants to drop by to see/snap some better photos of everything now that all the press/donors/architects arent crowding the room.

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 ive got to admit. i dont think ive ever bumped into a billionaire before tonight.. much less the richest man in Houston (lol, i backed/stood up to adjust when trying to get a close up of the model and it was Rich Kinder [the guy i overheard being told "theres your building".. i googled all the notable people after i got back from the event and realized who a few of them were] that i kind of brushed arms with. he was totally cool and after i tried to back away and let the museum guy continue with his little guided tour/presentation of the model for Kinder, Rich insisted i get the photo i was trying to take).

 

Sounds like he's kinder than most billionaires.

 

I had a similar experience with his wife one time. She was heading the committee to design Discovery Green and there was a solicitation for public input, so I sent in an e-mail describing an idea. The next morning she forwarded the e-mail to everyone on the committee (copying me) and gushed about how excited she was reading the description. The idea wasn't used, but it made an impression on me.

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Complete schedule:

 

Kinder Building (the new exhibition/restaurant/theater building):  Construction takes place 2017-2019

Glassell School of Art and the Bown Foundation Plaza:  Construction takes place summer 2015-2017

The Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation:  Construction takes place 2016-2017

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