Josef Helfenstein, director of the Menil Collection
, today announced the appointment of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) to enhance and expand the landscape design of the institutions 30-acre campus in the heart of Houston. The appointment signals the beginning of implementation of the Menils master plan for its urban neighborhood of art, as the enclave of museum buildings, green spaces, and bungalows has been called.
The Menil expects to begin site preparation for the first phase of the MVVA design in Fall 2013.
The Menils project, undertaken on the basis of a master site plan by David Chipperfield Architects, calls for the creation of additional green space and walkways, new visitor amenities such as a cafe, and the addition of new buildings for art. Existing facilities include the main museum building by Renzo Piano (recently recognized with the AIA 25 Year Award); the Cy Twombly Gallery (also by Piano); and Richmond Hall, which houses light installations by Dan Flavin. The first new art building on campus will be the Menil Drawing Institute, a freestanding center for the exhibition, collection, conservation and study of modern and contemporary drawings, to be designed by the Los Angeles-based firm Johnston Marklee.
MVVAs work will begin with the creation of a new entrance sequence on the north side of the Menils campus. The landscape design will welcome visitors from the parking area off West Alabama Street to the new Menil café (envisioned for construction in one of the bungalows) and the main museum building beyond.
The enjoyment of the garden-like outdoor spaces is essential to the Menil Collection, Josef Helfenstein commented. The feeling here of appreciating art is closely tied to the experience of crossing a green space under our magnificent trees as you go from one gallery building to another. We know that the superb design work of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates is ideally suited to our setting, and we are delighted to start with the firms team as we begin to realize our aspirations for this campus.
It is an honor to be selected by the Menil Collection to develop and implement new landscape designs for its unparalleled campus, Michael Van Valkenburgh stated. In no other place do you have this extraordinary fusion of great international art and architecture and serene, parklike expanses, in the midst of a thriving, humanely scaled neighborhood. We look forward to helping usher visitors into the Menil through our landscape design and are excited to carry forward this work elsewhere on campus as the project progresses.