In another pleasing step forward in its ultimate execution of David Chipperfield‘s master plan for the museum campus, the Menil Collection has hired Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates to design a new landscape for the 30-acre neighborhood that connects more than a half-dozen museum buildings.
The Menil, most recently the recipient of the AIA’s 25 Year Award, was designed by Renzo Piano as his first work in the United States in close collaboration with museum founder Dominique de Menil. Van Valkenburgh is no stranger to projects of any scale, having already accomplished the redesign of Pennsylvania Avenue outside of the White House in Washington, D.C., Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, and campus designs for Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania.
The new landscape will begin by updating the parking lot, while simultaneously creating a more proper “entrance” to the museum grounds. Also, the integration of more greenery and walkways will help connect upcoming building additions to the museum; namely the Menil Drawing Institute being designed by Los Angeles duo Johnston Marklee, and the renovation of the book store into a new café, that while working closely with the Rice University School of Architecture on a design, Menil Director Josef Helfenstein has been silent thus far on which specific architect will be taking the reigns for that project in the near future.
Also intended in the expansion of park space is the installation of more outdoor sculpture around the campus. It seems that Van Valkenburgh has the same grasp of the museum’s serenity and neighborhood scale as David Chipperfield did with his master plan from 2009, and as long as there are still areas of the campus promoting locals to have picnics and take naps in the Sun, the makeover should be a welcomed one.