You’ve probably noticed the traffic cones closing a lane at Montrose and Bissonet. If you’ve wondered what it’s all about, the ongoing work under the roadway is all part of growing pains in a significant expansion at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH).
The proposed plan was outlined at the September 2013 MAMA meeting by speakers Gwen Goffe, MFAH, and Patti Joiner, Knudsen & Associates.
The multi-year proposed plan calls for unifying the current MFAH campus through construction of a new exhibition building for contemporary art on the present parking area across from the Caroline Weiss Law Building, the integration of the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden with an expansion of the Glassell School of Art, and construction of an underground parking facility for the new buildings. The proposed plan will bring yet another distinguished firm, Steven Holl Architects, to Houston to add to the Museum’s list of buildings by great architects.
The new exhibition building will feature Art after 1900 and include galleries for traveling exhibitions, educational facilities, a library and study/resource center, lecture halls, a theater and a restaurant that will overlook the Cullen Sculpture Garden. The new building for Glassell School will provide a significant increase in space and include a plaza enhancing accessibility to the Cullen Sculpture Garden. The underground parking facility will include a separate entrance for buses and trucks and an underground pedestrian and vehicle connection to link all three sites.
The MFAH has worked with the City, the Parks Department, and affected neighbors to create plans for this new center for public engagement with the arts. The project proposes to tie together all landscape elements in the immediate area. Exterior gardens and water features will be added, the existing setback along Montrose will be maintained, and street trees will be protected in cooperation with the Parks Department. Together with moving the parking underground, the entire project will greatly enhance the beauty of our neighborhood.
The current work in traffic lanes near the museum will rebuild and relocate underground utilities over the next few months. The next phase will be the construction of the new Glassell School, to commence in 2015. The above proposal is subject to modification in the ongoing planning phase.