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Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) Selects Steven Holl Architects to Partner in Developing New Museum Facilities

Plan will unify the MFAH campus, linking with existing gallery buildings by Mies van der Rohe and Rafael Moneo, the Glassell School of Art, as well as a sculpture garden by Isamu Noguchi, to create a nearly 10-acre public campus in the heart of Houston’s Museum District

Houston — Cornelia Long, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, announced that Steven Holl Architects has been selected to partner with the board and staff of the museum in developing an expansion that enlarges the museum’s presentation of its collections, exhibitions and myriad educational programs. The project will entail the construction of a new museum building intended primarily for art after 1900 to complement the Audrey Jones Beck and Caroline Wiess Law Buildings. Further, the project will address the integration of the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden and the expansion of the Glassell School of Art. A new parking facility will be added, as well.

Architect Steven Holl Courtsey Mark Heitoff

The decision follows a comprehensive international search that resulted in three firms—Steven Holl Architects, Snøhetta and Morphosis—developing site-specific concepts for the planned expansion. Following presentations by each firm, the long-range planning committee of the board of trustees selected Steven Holl Architects.

“After extensive consideration of the three finalists, there was a strong consensus that Steven Holl Architects could provide an outstanding building that would integrate itself beautifully into the MFAH campus,” said Richard D. Kinder, chair of the museum’s long-range planning committee.

“This is a proud moment not only for the MFAH, but for the city of Houston,” said Cornelia Long, chair of the Board of Trustees.
“I am tremendously excited by the prospect of working with Steven Holl and Chris McVoy of Steven Holl Architects,” said MFAH director Gary Tinterow. “Everyone on the committee was deeply impressed by the intelligence and beauty of their museum projects, and we feel certain that they will conceive a design that will match the clarity and elegance of our existing architectural landmarks.”
The new museum building will occupy a two-acre, museum-owned site currently being used as a parking lot. The property is adjacent to the Isamu Noguchi-designed Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden and to the Glassell School of Art. It is across Bissonnet Street from the Audrey Jones Beck Building, designed by Rafael Moneo, and the Caroline Wiess Law Building, designed by Mies van der Rohe. In addition to being a home for art after 1900 from the MFAH permanent collection, the new building will include galleries for traveling exhibitions, educational facilities, a library and study/resource center, lecture halls, a theater and a restaurant.

“We are very excited to collaborate with the MFAH to realize this exceptional museum expansion for Houston. The amazing potential of this project is an inspiring challenge. We are honored to give this work our full attention and enthusiasm. With the optimism of the new director and trustees, the MFAH is poised to realize an expanded integral campus with excellent new spaces for art,” said Steven Holl and Chris McVoy of Steven Holl Architects.

About the Architects
Based in New York City and Beijing, Steven Holl Architects has realized architectural works nationally and overseas, with extensive experience in the arts (including museum, gallery and exhibition design), campus and educational facilities, residential work and master planning. The firm has been internationally recognized with architecture’s most prestigious awards for quality and excellence in design, including the 1998 Alvar Aalto Award, the 2001 Grande Medailles D’Or, the 2009 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award and most recently, the AIA 2012 Gold Medal Award. Named by Time Magazine as America’s Best Architect, Steven Holl has a unique design sensibility for “buildings that satisfy the spirit as well as the eye.” Completed museums include Kiasma: The Finnish Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; The Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark; the Cite de l’ocean et du surf in Biarritz; and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, named by Time Magazine “#1 Architectural Marvel of 2007” and called “one of the best buildings of the last generation” by The New Yorker.

About the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Established in 1900, the MFAH is the largest cultural institution in the region. The majority of the museum’s presentations take place on its main campus, which is located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District and comprises the Audrey Jones Beck Building, the Caroline Wiess Law Building, the Glassell School of Art and the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden. The Beck and Law buildings are connected underground by the Wilson Tunnel, which features James Turrell’s iconic installation The Light Inside (1999). Additional resources include a repertory cinema, two significant libraries, public archives and a state-of-the-art conservation and storage facility. Nearby, two remarkable house museums—Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens and Rienzi—present collections of American and European decorative arts. The encyclopedic collections of the MFAH are especially strong in pre-Columbian and African gold; Renaissance and Baroque painting and sculpture; 19th- and 20th-century art; photography; and Latin American art. The MFAH is also home to the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), a leading research institute for 20th-century Latin American and Latino art.

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