the menil drawing institute by johnston marklee is under construction in texas
 

the menil drawing institute by johnston marklee is under construction in texas

in october 2017, the menil collection in houston, texas will mark its 30th anniversary with a series of major exhibitions and events. coinciding with the celebration, the institution also plans to open the menil drawing institute, a freestanding museum building designed by LA-based studio johnston marklee. the structure, which will cost a total of $40 million USD, is dedicated to the collection, exhibition, and study of modern and contemporary drawings.

johnston marklee menil
drawing room with doors opening to the scholar courtyard
image courtesy of johnston marklee / igor brozyna (also main image)

 

 

conceived by johnston marklee in collaboration with landscape architects michael van valkenburgh associates, the 30,000-square-foot (2,787 sqm) drawing institute is the fifth art building on the menil’s campus, again adding to renzo piano’s original museum building from 1987. centrally sited within the 30-acre site, the scheme is surrounded by green spaces and placed at the center of new pedestrian paths.

johnston marklee menil
library with doors opening to the drawing room
image courtesy of johnston marklee / igor brozyna

 

 

rising to a total height of 16 feet (4.8 meters), the scale of the menil drawing institute mediates between the residential bungalows that surround the campus and the more substantial architecture of the main museum building. the project brief called for a building that could shield sensitive works on paper from natural light, while filling common areas of the building with carefully modulated sunshine.

johnston marklee menil
exhibition gallery space at the menil drawing institute
image courtesy of johnston marklee / igor brozyna

 

 

two square, open-roofed, landscaped courtyards serve as entrances. running between them, a large space — referred to as the ‘living room’ — functions as both a circulation spine and a place of gathering. meanwhile, a third courtyard creates a ‘scholars’ cloister’ on the building’s north side. here, the living room gives access to administrative offices on one side of the scholars’ cloister, and to study rooms and the conservation lab on the other. to the south, the space transitions into exhibition galleries.

johnston marklee menil
partial view of the living room and scholars’ cloister
image courtesy of johnston marklee / nephew

 

 

internally, a custom collection of benches, tables, and other furniture — inspired by the elemental, structural forms of the building itself — has been created by johnston marklee in collaboration with jeff jamieson. in addition to the drawing institute, johnston marklee has also designed the nearby energy house, which provides a new central source of heating and cooling for the campus. construction work on both buildings has entered its final stages ahead of the opening later this year.

johnston marklee menil
the west courtyard is populated with trees
image courtesy of johnston marklee / nephew

johnston marklee menil
the menil drawing institute’s west façade as seen from the energy house
image courtesy of johnston marklee / nephew

johnston marklee menil
the building at dusk, looking past the west entrance courtyard
image courtesy of johnston marklee / nephew

johnston marklee menil
site plan showing the menil drawing institute in relation to the main museum building

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