Steven Holl completes Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston

The gathering spaces – including the building’s walkable, sloping roof – provide a civic experience for students and the public alike, with spectacular views of the neighbourhood and the city skyline
– Steven Holl

Work has been completed on the new Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (MFAH), designed by Steven Holl Architects.

The School – the only museum-run institute in the US with programmes that serve students of all ages, from 3-year-olds to adults – is a major component of the museum’s 14-acre redevelopment, masterminded by Holl, which is currently the largest cultural project under construction in North America.

The L-shaped design of the latest building features a sloping, walkable roofline that runs the length of the structure and connects a wide-stepped amphitheatre at its base and a roof garden above.

The interior of the 93,000sq ft (8,600sq m) school features three dozen studios, all illuminated with natural light and designed to serve more than 8,500 children and adults annually, as well as public gallery spaces for exhibitions.

“Our building for the Glassell School is a key part of the overall strategy to shape the public spaces for the entire campus,” said Steven Holl.

“Alternating concrete and glass panels create a porosity between indoors and out, and the gathering spaces – including the building’s walkable, sloping roof – provide a civic experience for students and the public alike, with spectacular views of the neighbourhood and the city skyline.”

Deborah Nevins & Associates and Nevins & Benito Landscape Architecture have also completed the Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza, a public gateway to the museum’s entire campus, which extends onto the School’s roof.

The plaza provides the dramatic setting for a reflecting pool, a shaded seating area and two monumental public sculptures: Cloud Column (1998–2006), a 32-foot-high stainless steel form by Anish Kapoor; and Eduardo Chillida’s stacked-granite Song of Strength (1966).

Commenting on the completed projects, Gary Tinterow, director of the MFAH, said: “As we reveal not only a glorious new building for the Glassell School, but also a public plaza, large fountain, amphitheater, and roof garden, I think Houstonians will quickly grasp that our project intends to create a new destination for the city.”

Next to open as part of the campus revamp will be the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation, designed by Lake|Flato Architects, later this year, and the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, a museum extension designed by Holl, in early 2020.

When complete, the campus will boast public plazas; reflecting pools; gardens; improved sidewalks, lighting, and wayfinding; and an “active setting” for visitors to admire its older buildings, designed by the likes of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Rafael Moneo.

The project - largely funded by philanthropists Nancy and Rich Kinder – has been designed to expand the role the museum plays in the daily life of Houston, “not only as a cultural institution but also as an urban oasis open to all.” The redevelopment is projected to generate nearly $334 million in economic activity over 20 years.

The origins of an MFAH school date to 1927, three years after the museum’s 1924 opening. The Glassell School of Art opened in 1979. Now, each year, the school offers more than $100,000 in scholarships and enrols about 7,000 students. Enrollment is expected to grow to 8,500 in the new building, which doubles the space of the original.

An extensive interview with Steven Holl features in the most recent issue of CLADmag, and can be read here.

In his own words
Steven Holl on his work for the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston

Holl’s Nancy and Rich Kinder Building museum extension was originally set to be built on the site of a parking lot owned by the church across the street, with the competition brief calling for the addition of a new seven-storey car park. The Glassell School building was to remain exactly as it was.

“I studied the site, and I decided they shouldn’t be building a car park there, they should just put a layer of parking underground to free up more space. But in order to do that, they would have to tear down the Glassell School,” he told CLADglobal. “We figured out we could do them a new school building about twice the size. So I took a radical decision in the competition, and I told them, ‘This is how I would do it. It’s not what you asked for, but this way you can double the size of your sculpture garden and it will be bigger than the one in Dallas.’

“The great thing about a place like Houston is there’s enough space to spread out,” he continued. “That creates the right kind of circulation. Every time you’re moving around these buildings, you understand where you are, you never get lost and you can regularly see Isamu Noguchi’s gardens and the great white oaks outside.

“Movement is absolutely key to the human experience, and all the best museum experiences are horizontal. In vertical museums, everybody’s always standing by a stupid elevator and there’s something irritating about it because moving through the galleries is not so commodious. With these buildings we had space to breathe, and more opportunities to let the daylight flood in.”

Glassell School of Art  Museum of Fine Arts in Houston  MFAH  Steven Holl Architects  Nancy and Rich Kinder 
Related stories

Steven Holl blames 'corruption in power' for construction industry's failure to embrace renewable energy in hard-hitting interview

Medieval fortress and Apocalypse Tapestry inspire Steven Holl's museum and hotel design for Angers

'Parachutes frozen in the sky': Historic airfield inspires Steven Holl's mixed-use Moscow district

Steven Holl's cloud-inspired Houston art gallery breaks ground

Clocks and clouds inspire Steven Holl's Shanghai culture and health centre

Steven Holl returns with sculptural arts complex in Iowa

Steven Holl wins international prize for his use of daylight in design

FEATURE: Interview – Steven Holl

More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6325     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6325     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: FaulknerBrowns Architects
The design service we offer extends from initial feasibility studies through all the design stages to completion of the building on site, leading the design team and co-ordinating and managing the client and contractor teams.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Johannes Torpe has designed the spa so that the views of the landscape dominate throughout
"We want to create the illusion that guests are entering another world when they arrive at the resort"

An Icelandic spa retreat inspired by surrealist folk tales

The third floor features the interval training space and acts as a buffer between the noisy club and quiet hotel
DMAC’s Dwayne MacEwen
"The hotel concept came late in the game, but it was an inspired idea"

The newly renovated Chicago Midtown Athletic Club features a boutique hotel, a pool-come-ice rink and spaces designed by Venus Williams

The Smile aimed to showcase the possibilities of timber construction
Alison Brooks
"The profession is changing"

We need to help the public understand that architects are on their side, argues The Smile designer

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
One of the bedrooms
Lund has worked as a designer for Soho House since 2014. She co-led the design of The Ned
"My favourite part of the building is the original bank vault, in the belly of the building. It once stored gold bullion deposits of £335m"

On the challenges of creating The Ned

The Yongsan Park project will see a military installation replaced by a public park
Adriaan Geuze
"The profile of landscape architecture has been raised by international cities competing with one another"

How the West 8 founder is using the healing power of nature on a Korean site with a turbulent history

A bronze mesh allows sound energy to reach the hall’s walls, improving the acoustics
"It’s a privilege to have completed a scheme of such importance to the cultural identity of Antwerp - Stuart Mills"

SimsponHaugh’s latest project

features
Theoni Xanthi Partner XZA Architects
"The design concept is to create a museum that evokes a transition in time, in space, in memory"

The vision for the New Cyprus Musuem

Carlo Ratti
"You could have cultural events and museums that go from city to city. It’s a new way of thinking"

Rising sea levels and a shortage of land are leading to increased interest in floating buildings. We take a look at some fascinating projects

cladkit product news
Parkside opens flagship Chelsea showroom
The showroom is designed to inspire its clients
Lauren Heath-Jones
Parkside, a designer of contemporary porcelain and ceramic tiles, has opened its first showroom in the UK. Located in Chelsea ...
Hotel Crescent Court opens new spa following multi-million-dollar renovation
Hotel Crescent Court has reopened its spa after a multi-million dollar refurbishment
Lauren Heath-Jones
Hotel Crescent Court, a luxury hotel in Dallas, Texas, has reopened its spa and fitness centre after completing a multi-million-dollar ...
Kvorning wins contest to design aquaculture exhibit at Norway's Coastal Museum
The exhibition explores the history of Norway's fish-farming industry dating back to 1970
Lauren Heath-Jones
Copenhagen-based design studio Kvorning Design and Norwegian advertising agency Vindfang have won a competition, organised by Museums in Sør Trøndelag ...
cladkit product news
Ben van Berkel launches UNSense startup to boost health and wellbeing in built environments
Kim Megson
Dutch architect Ben van Berkel and his design firm UNStudio have launched a tech startup to “improve the health and ...
Empex Watertoys partners with Singapore architecture firm on new splash park
Buds is a new splash park that caters to children aged 12 and under
Lauren Heath-Jones
Empex Watertoys has partnered with Singapore landscape architecture firm Playpoint Singapore Pte to create Buds, an exciting new splash park ...
FAÇADE award winners 'diverse and remarkable', says SFE board member
Ramboll was awarded for the Blavatnik Building, Switchouse Extension of the Tate Moder
Lauren Heath-Jones
A trio of British leisure facilities have been honoured in the Façade2017 awards. Established in 2013 by the Society of ...
cladkit product news
London's new pollution-eating living wall has air purifying power of 275 trees
CityTree is a living wall that reduces particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in the air by 30 per cent
Lauren Heath-Jones
The Crown Estate, a London-based commercial real estate company, has partnered with Westminster City Council and cleantech specialist Evergen Systems ...
Dornbracht debuts Rainmoon wellness shower concept at  Salone del Mobile
Rainmoon is a multi-sensory wellness experience designed to revitalise and reinvigorate the user
Lauren Heath-Jones
Dornbracht, a German-based luxury bathroom specialist, has launched an innovative new shower experience, Rainmoon. Slated as the next generation of ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates