The new Glassell School of Art serves as the teaching institute of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The three-story building provides state-of-the-art studios and active social spaces within the 93,765-square-foot structure. The BBVA Compass Roof Garden and adjacent Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza also serve the expanding needs of the school and the unique mix of students of all ages. Sited on two acres, adjoining the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden designed by Isamu Noguchi, the building replaces the school’s 1979 facility.
The L-shaped building defines two edges of the plaza. Its sloped, walkable roofline, anchored by a stepped amphitheater, extends the plaza up and along the roof to a garden above. The exterior is constructed from 178 unique precast concrete panels that create a rhythm across the exterior surface as they alternate with 170 glass panes that provide natural light to all studios and classrooms. A three-story, broad-stepped forum activates the center of the school’s interior.
The simple planar structural pieces of sandblasted concrete begin with the angle of the inclined roof plane and give character to the inner spaces of the building in the spirit of simplicity and directness employed by Mies Van der Rohe’s original building. The concrete planes alternate with large translucent panels to provide ideal diffuse light to the studios. As an educational building it tells us how it is made. Winston Churchill said “First we shape our buildings, and then they shape us.”
Legends, Chris McVoy Steven Holl Architects, ICOR Associates, Kendall/ Heaton Associates, Transsolar, Olaf Schmidt Steven Holl Architects, Rychiee Espinosa Steven Holl Architects, Knippers Helbig, Steven Holl Steven Holl Architects, Cardno Haynes Whaley, L'Observatoire International, Venue Cost Consultants, Yiqing Zhao Steven Holl Architects, Guy Nordenson & Associates