Johnston Marklee’s Design for Menil Drawing Institute To Harness Gradients of Light

at dusk, looking past the west entrance courtyard. Image Courtesy of Johnston Marklee / The Menil Collection

As we reported last weekThe Menil Collection has unveiled details on the Menil Drawing Institute (MDI), designed by Los Angeles-based Johnston Marklee, in Houston, Texas. The building will be the first freestanding facility in the United States created especially for the exhibition, study, storage, and conservation of modern and contemporary drawings. 

Situated in an extensive 30-acre masterplan designed by David Chipperfield Architects, the institute will be located amongst Renzo Piano’s main museum building, Piano’s Cy Twombly Gallery, the Dan Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall, and the Rothko Chapel. More info on the design, and all the renderings, after the break.

AD Classics: Rothko Chapel / Philip Johnson, Howard Barnstone, Eugene Aubry and Mark Rothko

© Photo by Chris Erdos - http://www.flickr.com/photos/chris-erdos/

In 1964 Mark Rothko was commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil (who are also founders of the nearby Menil Collection that is housed in the Renzo Piano-designed Menil Museum and Cy Twombly Gallery) to create a meditative space filled with his site-specific paintings. The original architect assigned to work alongside Rothko was Philip Johnson, with whom Rothko clashed over their distinct ideas for the building. Rothko would object to the monumentality of Johnson’s plan as distracting from the artwork it was to house. For this reason the Chapel would go through several revisions and architects working on the meditative space. Rothko continued first with Howard Barnstone and then Eugene Aubry, but ultimately did not live to see the chapel’s completion in 1971. It was after a long struggle with depression that Rothko committed suicide in his New York Studio on February 25th, 1970.