New York City-based Architecture Research Office (ARO) has been selected to lead the renovation and master planning of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, the home of 14 monumental panels by artist Mark Rothko. The chapel’s interior was designed to the artist’s precise vision.
ARO will seek to improve the Chapel’s interior lighting and its presentation of Rothko’s panels by renovating the skylight, the interior light baffle, and the electric lighting systems in collaboration with lighting designers from George Sexton Associates. According to a press release, the project will also include improvements to the HVAC system and acoustics, and the entry vestibule will be redone to better enhance the visitor experience, all while maintaining a close eye toward Rothko’s original intent for the space.
The master planning portion will address the outdoor plaza and reflecting pool containing Barnett Newman’s sculpture Broken Obelisk, as well as several adjacent edifices. Given that the chapel’s neighboring institutions, the Menil Collection and the University of St. Thomas, are both undergoing extensive renovations, the plans for Rothko Chapel seek to elevate its visibility while maintaining its identity and function as a quiet sanctuary.
ARO has a history of working with leading universities and cultural institutions and is the winner of the 2011 National Design Award for Architecture from the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum.