The latest addition to the Menil Foundation’s sprawling 30-acre campus in Houston is now complete. The Menil Collection will welcome the opening of the Menil Drawing Institute on November 3, on a Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates-designed landscape that ties the new building to the existing collection’s grounds. Johnston Marklee’s $40 million Drawing Institute is opening a year later than originally expected due to construction delays. The low-slung, 30,000-square-foot building might appear simple—a single-story collection of rectangular volumes and three open-air square courtyards—but the highly-specific technical details contributed in part to the postponement. On a recent tour of the building by the Houston Chronicle, the extremely-thin metal roof, precisely-angled ceilings, all-custom furniture, and vertically-veined marble in the bathrooms were singled out as examples of Johnston Marklee’s attention to detail (and the lengthened schedule) paying off. The Drawing Institute is the first freestanding space specifically built to study, conserve, and display contemporary and modern drawings, and is the Collection’s first new building in 20 years. The Institute’s 3,000 square feet of gallery spaces will be inaugurated with a 50-year retrospective of Jasper Johns’s work titled The Condition of Being Here: Drawings by Jasper Johns. The Condition of Being Here will be on display until January 29, 2019, and like the other four buildings in the Menil Collection, admission to the Drawing Institute will be free. In the construction photos released today, completed pieces of the painted-steel roof, only 4.5 inches thick at the courtyard canopies, can be seen being swung into place. The roofs of the three courtyards open in the middle, exposing each landscaped area to the sky and providing a controlled moment of respite for visitors. The inward slant of the canopies redirects water into the courtyard, where it can be sequestered in the same way as in a bioswale. Resiliency and structural flood prevention were also given a high priority in the new building, especially relevant given the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the city last year. A below-ground art vault was installed to protect the Institution’s archives from water damage, and it includes a waterproof drainage layer sandwiched by two 12-inch-thick concrete walls, as well as floodgates at the vault’s entrance. A concrete curb was also installed at the ground-level slab to protect against flooding in the first-floor galleries. Interested in exploring Houston’s art scene even further? After a tour of what the Menil Collection has to offer, visitors can check out the recently completed Transart building across the street.
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The Philadelphia Contemporary, which up till now has been an itinerant “curatorial institution,” bridging art, performance, and spoken word with various pop-ups and events around its namesake city, is getting a permanent physical home by Los Angeles firm Johnston Marklee. The firm, whose partners Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee artistic directed the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, have worked on a slew of cultural institutions as of late including the recent Menil Drawing Institute in Houston, which opens next week. Following on its nomadic beginnings, the new kunsthalle will be, as Lee puts it, “inextricably woven into the fabric of the city.” The Philadelphia Contemporary, sans building, has programmed cultural events across the city over the past two years, including an ASMR Film Festival, as part of its two week Festival for the People, an arts event that happened over the past two weekends and featured an impressive array of artists, performers, poets, and others from Philly and around the world, including Hito Steyerl, Andrea Bowers, and Lyrispect. The festival also featured selections from Creative Time’s Pledges of Allegiance, which is a series of 16 flags by a number of artists including Jayson Musson, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Tania Bruguera, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Creative Time’s former chief curator, Nato Thompson, has been serving as the Philadelphia Contemporary’s artistic director. Johnston Marklee was chosen after an extensive search by a 14-member jury comprising representatives from the Philadelphia Contemporary, as well as city officials, members of the arts, design, and literary community, and other local community members. Johnston Marklee will be working with local MGA Partners, the architect of record. The final building design is to be revealed in 2019.
After a lengthy build-out, Houston's Menil Drawing Institute will open to the public this fall. As its name suggests, the Institute, a project the Menil Foundation initiated a decade ago, will showcase the drawings of master artists from all over the world. Los Angeles's Johnston Marklee designed the Drawing Institute's home, while the landscape architects at New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates will knit the building together with the existing structures that comprise the Menil Collection. When it opens to the public on November 3, the Menil Drawing Institute will showcase the work of Jasper Johns, the American artist best known for his interpretations of the stars and stripes. The retrospective, entitled The Condition of Being Here: Drawings by Jasper Johns, will be the first exhibition hosted in the 30,000-square-foot building. The Menil stewards one of the largest collections of Johns's drawings in existence, so the exhibition is meant to highlight this portion of the Foundation's wide-ranging collection. Johnston Marklee's $40 million structure—the first freestanding space purpose-built to display, study, and conserve modern and contemporary drawings—will joins four others on the Menil's 30-acre home. The main building, designed by Renzo Piano in 1987, is undergoing a concurrent renovation. That space will reopen to the public in early fall. Construction or not, the Menil Collection is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free at all times. More information on the Menil Drawing Institute and other programs can be found here.
Barnett Newman: The Late Collection The Menil Collection 1533 Sul Ross Street, Houston, Texas Through August 2 The Late Collection pays homage to Barnett Newman, an artist who came to define the spiritual aspirations of American painting in the mid-20th century by deviating from traditional concepts of figure and foreground in search of an experience of the sublime. The exhibition charts the technical and material transformations of the twilight period of Newman’s career, including his transition from oil to acrylic paint. The artist passed at age 65, leaving behind finished and unfinished works, many of which lay bare the concepts underlying his broader production. Newman’s signature paintings are of large and bold vertical planes of color with upright lines that he called “zips.” Zips, he thought, would reach out to the viewer and lift them out of their torpor into a confrontation with eternity. The exhibition also features major paintings made throughout Newman’s career from The Menil’s permanent collection. While visiting, also note that construction has begun on The Menil Drawing Institute, designed by Los Angeles architectural practice Johnston Marklee.
Never mind! After all that fuss to preserve the iconic Texas tin structure, Rice University's Art Barn met the Grim Reaper on Wednesday, April 16. While a group was able to salvage the building’s corrugated metal siding, wrecking crews tore away at the Martel Center's structure, marking a definitive end to efforts of preservationists to move the building to another site in Houston. Andy Warhol’s famous oak tree planted in front of the former structure will remain intact, but once the dust clears only a grass lawn will serve as tombstone. A rogue power line temporarily stalled the demolition, thereby buying a commemorative moment for the Art Barn’s historical and cultural import. The building’s spirit will live on through the Menil Collection it once housed, as well as its legacy with other tin houses.
New York-based landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) has been selected to develop new designs for The Menil Collection’s 30-acre campus in Houston, Texas. The appointment kicks off the Menil’s “neighborhood of art” master plan, designed in 2009 by London-based David Chipperfield Architects. Chipperfield's scheme attempts to tie together a group of six buildings spread across several blocks and interspersed with outdoor sculpture gardens and green spaces. The museum anticipates that groundwork for the initial stage of MVVA’s design will begin this September. Chipperfield Architect's master plan calls for new visitor amenities, such as a cafe, as well as new buildings for art. The first of these, The Menil Drawing Institute designed by Los Angeles-based Johnston Marklee, will be dedicated to the display, preservation, and study of modern and contemporary drawings. MVVA will design a new entry on the north side of the Menil’s campus. The firm’s scheme will usher guests from the parking area to a new Menil café, which will be housed in one of the campus' historic bungalows, and the Renzo Piano–designed museum building. Mr. Van Valkenburgh told the New York Times that “it’s always a challenge to take a landscape that has evolved incrementally and a landscape that has a subtle and modest character and to somehow succeed in improving it.” Outdoor garden space is indispensable to the collection and the museum aims to do a better job in curating the landscape. Menil director Josef Helfenstein emphasized in a statement that appreciating art is linked to the entire experience of where it is viewed, including the journey between disparate buildings in an institution like the Menil.
The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, has been honored with the 2013 AIA Twenty-Five Year Award. Renzo Piano designed the museum to house Dominique de Menil’s impressive collection of primitive African art and modern surrealist art in the heart of a residential neighborhood. The design respected Ms. de Menil’s wish to make the museum appear “large from the inside and small from the outside” and to ensure the works could be viewed under natural lighting. Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow.
The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas has announced a shortlist for the new Menil Drawing Institute, which includes David Chipperfield Architects, Johnston Marklee, Tatiana Bilbao/mx.a, and SANAA. The building will be the largest freestanding space devoted to drawings. The competitors certainly have a high bar to meet. Renzo Piano's building for the Menil collection is considered one of the best places to view art in the country. “In this year, when we observe the 25th anniversary of our great museum building by Renzo Piano, we are pleased to begin realizing our vision for the future by selecting the next architect to design a major building for the Menil campus," said Josef Helfenstein, director of the collection, in a statement. "By taking on the challenge of designing MDI—the only facility of its kind—the architect will create a home for our largest, fastest-growing but most delicate collection of artworks, while also providing an important new focal point for the entire campus.”