“The architecture functions like a drawing: It’s a composition of folded planes that create entries, entrances, and courtyards that play with light and shadow to accentuate daylight and bring attention to very subtle geometries.”
— Christiana Moss, FAIA

Location Houston
Client The Menil Foundation
Architect Johnston Marklee
Design Team Sharon Johnston, FAIA; Mark Lee; Nicholas Hofstede, AIA; Andri Luescher; Anton Schneider; Rodolfo Reis Dias; Jeff Mikolajewski; Letizia Garzoli; Douglas Harsevoort; Maximilian Kocademirci; Mehr Khanpour; David Gray
Contractor Gilbane Building Company
Landscape Architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
Structural Engineer Guy Nordenson and Associates
Associate Structural Engineer Cardno Haynes Whaley
MEP Engineer Stantec
Civil Engineer Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam
Building Envelope Engineer Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Lighting Designers George Sexton Associates; Tillett Lighting Design Associates
Cost Consultant AECOM
Acoustical/AV/IT Arup
Security Architect’s Security Group
Soils Olsson
Irrigation WC3 Design
Geotechnical Engineer Terracon
Specifications and Hardware AWC West
Code and Accessibility ACI
Expeditor Landers Consulting
Environmental Graphics MG&Co.
Facade Design FRENER & REIFER
Surveyor Civil-Surv Land Surveying
Platting Lentz Engineering
Custom Wood Furniture Wood & Plywood Furniture
Visualization Places Studio; Nephew

Composed of a series of buildings and courtyards, the Menil Drawing Institute is unified by a white steel plate roof that hovers over the landscape. The courtyards act as thresholds between outdoor and indoor spaces, and the underlying folds of the roof plane create a shaded atmosphere around the building. The project employs sidelight from windows — a traditionally domestic configuration — to protect the extremely sensitive artwork. Public spaces are filled with diffuse natural light, baffled by folds in the ceiling plane. The plan is arranged in a village-like configuration: The contained volumes hold specific functions, while more loosely defined activities take place in the areas between. 

For more on the Menil Drawing Institute, see the article “Sketchy” in the July/August 2019 issue of TA.

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