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MFAH Breaks Ground on 14-Acre Campus Redevelopment


View of Glassell School of Art central staircase, designed by Steven Holl Architects.

View of Glassell School of Art central staircase, designed by Steven Holl Architects.

Fayez S. Sarofim campus is a $450-million capital and endowment project

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston formally broke ground for the Fayez S. Sarofim Campus. The MFAH campus will transform through late 2019 with its new master plan that includes two new buildings (the new Glassell School of Art and the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building for modern and contemporary art), designed by Steven Holl Architects; the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation, designed by Lake|Flato Architects; and a landscape plan by Deborah Nevins & Associates.

Richard D. Kinder, MFAH chairman, commented, “We have broken ground not only on a new building for the Glassell School of Art, but also on a reimagined campus that will transform the visitor’s experience of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and create an urban oasis here in the heart of theMuseum District.”

Gary Tinterow, MFAH director, said, “The Glassell School has been central to Houston’s art community for nearly three decades. Its new home, with its open circulation, generous outdoor spaces for performances, and varied gathering places, will allow the school to become a welcoming public gateway to the Museum campus.”

The Glassell School of Art is best known outside of Houston for its residency program and influential alumni, according to artist Joseph Havel, director of the Glassell School of Art. “But the local impact of the junior and adult schools — which combined serve some 7,000 students each year — has also been profound, helping to create an audience for art in Houston,” he said.

The first phase of this urban campus will create architecture that provides vital service for the arts and Houston’s expanding cultural community. The goal of the landscape plan is to create pedestrian connections among the Museum’s five principal buildings, and a series of outdoor spaces that will animate the public’s experience of these 14 urban acres.

 

Glassell School of Art: A Gateway to the Fayez S. Sarofim Campus

The 80,000-square-foot Glassell School of Art will be built on the two-acre former site of the school’s 1979 building and adjacent parking lot. The new, L-shaped structure will define two edges of the new Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza. With an entrance fronting onto the plaza, the school’s roofline
will extend downward to a stepped amphitheater with outdoor space for programs and performances, and upward to the walkable, trellised BBVA Compass Roof Garden, which will provide dramatic views of the campus. The garden is named in honor of BBVA Compass, the leading corporate donor of the campaign.

“The BBVA Compass Roof Garden
is a stunning addition to Houston’s landscape,” said BBVA Compass chairman and CEO Manolo Sánchez. “There is a reason we made this donation to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and it has as much to do with the Museum’s commitment to bringing the power of the arts to young people than anything else.”

The original walls of the 1986 Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, designed by Isamu Noguchi, will anchor the southern end of the landscaped plaza.

Constructed from precast concrete panels in a rhythm of verticals and slight angles, the structure’s design allows for natural light in all 35 studios; an open, broad-stepped central staircase; and multiple exhibition spaces. In addition, the school will house offices for faculty and Museum staff; corridor galleries for the informal display of art; outdoor sculpture and ceramic spaces; a 75-seat auditorium; an education court for orientation, assembly and dedicated drop-off for schoolchildren; and a street-level café for students and the public.

A dedicated tunnel for pedestrians will connect school groups and the public to the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building for modern and contemporary art when that building opens in 2019. A second tunnel for cars will connect the 285-space underground parking facility below the school to the 115-space underground facility in the Kinder Building. Completion of the Glassell School is expected in late 2017.

To follow the continuing progress of the MFAH campus redevelopment project, visit mfah.org/future.

View of the Glassell School of Art façade, designed by Steven Holl Architects, and the Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza.

View of the Glassell School of Art façade, designed by Steven Holl Architects, and the Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza.


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