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Menil Collection Selects Johnston Marklee to Design New Menil Drawing Institute

Menil Collection has chosen the Los Angeles -based architecture firm Johnston Marklee to design the Menil Drawing Institute (MDI), the first major building project to be initiated under an ambitious plan for the institution’s future.

The Menil Collection

MDI will accommodate the special needs of the Menil’s largest and fastest-growing collection by providing the first facility in the U.S. built especially for the exhibition, study, storage, and conservation of modern and contemporary drawings. Added to the other buildings on the serene, wooded campus, where concentrations of exceptional art are connected by paths through abundant green space, MDI will make accessible as never before a wealth of works that exemplify the Menil experience of a direct encounter between the visitor and the artist’s hand.

Founded in 1998 by Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, Johnston Marklee has undertaken residential, commercial, and institutional projects and exhibition environments with a particular focus on the arts and collaborations with artists. Notable projects, often designed to take advantage of their site, include writers-in-residence facilities for the Lannan Foundation in Marfa, Texas; View House, Rosario, Argentina; Hill House, Pacific Palisades, California; and Helios House, Los Angeles. Current projects include a new studio campus for the UCLA Graduate Art Program, Culver City; DEPART Foundation’s Grand Traiano Art Complex, Grottaferrata, Italy; Poggio Golo winery, Montepulciano, Italy; Vault House, Oxnard, California; and Chile House/META, a community arts center in Penco, Chile.

The Menil’s plan to enhance and add to its campus began with a strategic planning process undertaken in 2006, calling for a series of expansions to realize the full founding vision of Dominique and John de Menil. Among its features, the strategic plan proposes completing the campus with construction of the MDI, a café, additional space for the Menil Archives, and buildings devoted to the work of individual artists (such as the Menil’s Cy Twombly Gallery and Dan Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall).

Considered one of the most important privately assembled collections of the twentieth century, the Menil Collection opened officially on June 4, 1987, and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The Menil’s holdings, ranging from the prehistoric to art of the present day, are housed in a modern landmark designed by the renowned architect Renzo Piano. In the quarter-century since it opened to the public, the Menil has established an international reputation for presenting acclaimed exhibitions and producing many highly respected scholarly publications; pioneering partnerships with other cultural and education institutions across Houston, Texas and the United States; and conducting groundbreaking research into the conservation of modern and contemporary art. The Menil charges no admission fees. –

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