MFAH goes big

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston announces opening date of game-changing world-class facility

MFAH announces opening date of game-changing world-class facility

Nancy Rich Kinder Building Museum of Fine Arts Houston 2019
An aerial view of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building for modern and contemporary art, opening fall 2020. Photo courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Further cementing Houston’s status as a world-class arts hub, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston announced plans for a new building that will cap what’s considered the largest cultural project in North America.

The new Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, which will open in fall 2020, will mark the completion of the museum’s multi-year  expansion and redevelopment of the Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim Campus. The Kinder Building is specially dedicated to showcase installations from the important and rapidly growing MFAH collection of 20th-and 21st-century art, according to the museum.

The new Sarofim Campus boasts some 650,000 square feet of new construction. Inaugurated in 2012 with the selection of Steven Holl Architects and undertaken through a $450 million capital and endowment campaign, the project will unify the campus by creating 14 walkable acres. It has already added a public plaza and two buildings to the MFAH: a new home for the Glassell School of Art, also designed by Steven Holl Architects; and the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation, designed by Lake|Flato Architects.

Stunning design
The Kinder Building is meant to “stand in complementary contrast to these existing structures and to create a dialogue with Isamu Noguchi’s 1986 Cullen Sculpture Garden, which Holl’s gallery building fronts on one side,” according to a press release.

The trapezoidal concrete building is clad in vertical glass tubes that will emit a soft glow at night, through composed patterns of illumination across its facades. Five rectangular courtyard pools are inset along the perimeter, reinforcing the building’s openness to its surroundings.

More space means more art: With more than 100,000 square feet of space, or 56 percent, dedicated to the presentation of works of art, the Kinder Building increases overall MFAH exhibition space by nearly 75 percent. Additional features of the building include a 215-seat theater for film screenings and a restaurant and café on the ground level.

World-class art
A series of seven major site-specific commissioned artworks will be inaugurated with the Kinder Building, serving as portals that connect this new structure with the other components of the campus. Commissioned artists are El Anatsui, Byung Hoon Choi, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Olafur Eliasson, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Cristina Iglesias, and Ai Weiwei.

The master plan also adds public plazas and gardens to the campus. Green spaces by Deborah Nevins & Associates, in collaboration with Mario Benito, and upgraded sidewalks, street lighting, and wayfinding are creating an urban oasis in the increasingly dense Museum District and contributing to Houston’s evolution as a more walkable city.

And for those concerned about the parking in the Museum District: The campus project has moved new parking belowground, adding some 400 spaces.

The Kinder Building is the final component of the plan as the third gallery building on the Sarofim Campus, joining the museum’s original Caroline Wiess Law Building (designed in the 1920s by William Ward Watkin, with later extensions by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) and the Audrey Jones Beck Building (designed by Rafael Moneo and opened in 2000).