As Asia Society Texas Center slowly introduces its new home in the Museum District, a wave of praise is building for the 40,000 square-foot structure designed by famed Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi. Just ask the VIPs who were invited in on Wednesday night or the host of architects who explored the serene spaces on Thursday.
Many among them would agree that not since the 1987 opening of The Menil Collection, designed by Renzo Piano, or the ribbon-cutting for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Beck Building in 2000, designed by Rafael Moneo, has Houston welcomed such a stunning architectural presence. The center opens to the public with four days of celebrations in mid-April.
The first of the week's previews saw 150 well-heeled community supporters, hand-picked by philanthropists Nidhika and Pershant Mehta, explore the architecturally clean spaces of the 40,000-square-foot, $48.4 million center.
The first of the week's previews saw 150 well-heeled community supporters, hand-picked by philanthropists Nidhika and Pershant Mehta, explore the architecturally clean spaces of the 40,000-square-foot, $48.4 million center. They oooohed over the beautiful American cherry wood paneling and ahhhed over the carefully-selected limestone walls. They were taken with the second-floor water garden that intermittently lets off clouds of steam from the perimeter and erupts into 3-foot fountains.
During this visit, ASTC executive director Martha Blackwelder offered a preview of the Treasures of Asian Art: A Rockefeller Legacy exhibition, the launch of which will coincide with the public opening on April 14. She announced that Anne and Albert Chao have made the lead gift to underwrite the exhibition.
Touring through the 273-seat Brown Foundation Performing Arts Theater and checking out the vast space of the education center were Sultana and Moez Mangalji, Eddie Allen, Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia, Gabriela and Daniel Dror, Nancy Allen, Y. Ping Sun and David Leebron, Karina and Carlos Barbieri, Omana and Sam Abraham, Nini and Tino Bekhradi, Rosemarie and Matt Johnson, Pinder and Jag Gill and Sudha and Ravi Mani.
Of course, it was with a more critical eye that the architectural community inspected the new center on Thursday. Larry Burns, principal at Kendall/Heaton Associates, the local architect of record for the project, and several members of his team were on hand to discuss Taniguchi's design with the party crowd, members of the American Institute of Architects.
That impressive group included Rice University architecture dean Sarah Whiting and Ron Witte, Carlos Jiménez, Carrie Glassman Shoemake, Rame and Russell Hruska, Dean Strombom, Joyce and Larry Sanders, Jory Alexander and Dr. Eli Mizrahi, Mimi Kilgore and Nonya Grenader.