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Johnston Marklee to design new Drawing Institute for Menil Collection

12 June 2012

Menil Collection Museum

US-based architect Johnston Marklee has been selected to design the new Menil Drawing Institute (MDI) and study centre building for the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, US, to house contemporary drawings.

The architect has been chosen out of four shortlisted firms, which included SANAA of Japan, Tatiana Bilbao of Mexico and David Chipperfield from the UK.

Apart from creating a gallery area for showcasing Menil's collections of modern and contemporary drawings, the proposed single-storey, metal-roofed structure will create exhibition, study and storage space for Menil's collections.

Menil Collection director Josef Helfenstein said Johnston Marklee has proposed an approach that sensitively and ingeniously addresses the challenges of accommodating the delicate medium of drawing.

"The firm understands on the deepest level the distinctive role that MDI will play as a focal point for the entire campus, giving us an approach that will serve this important collection and elevate the future experience of the Menil as a whole," Helfenstein said.

The building will be oriented around three courtyards, two of which will be built at either side of the building to act as entrances to the structure, while a space for researchers and scholars will be built around the third courtyard.

A living room for staff, scholars and the public will be built in the middle of the development.

MDI's exhibition gallery will be accessible from the living room and is designed to allow controlled and reflected natural light.

The visitors who enter the building will proceed from outdoor sunlight to the semi-enclosed space of the courtyard, the transparent space of the living room and the fully enclosed exhibition space.

The building is expected to be completed within the next three to five years.

The Renzo Piano-designed Menil Collection opened in June 1987 and houses John and Dominique de Menil's privately assembled art collection.


Image: The Menil Collection, designed by Renzo Piano, opened in June 1987 to showcase the art collection of John and Dominique de Menil. Photo:Argos'Dad