Blaffer Art Museum renovation
by WORKac

| 10 comments
 

New York architecture studio WORKac has reorganised the galleries of the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas, by adding a glazed entrance pavilion in front (+ slideshow).

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

Located on the campus of the University of Houston, the original 1970s building was planned with its entrance through an inner courtyard and it struggled to attract visitors. Another problem was that the two main gallery spaces were split apart by a central staircase and the route to a third trailed past the museum's administration areas.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

WORKac attempted to solve both issues with one solution. The architects designed a glazed extension that would relocate all circulation to the facade, whilst also creating a glowing entrance foyer.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

"[Our] design gives the museum striking presence and public connectivity through a series of imaginative and economical interventions to the building's facade, circulation patterns and exterior spaces," explain the architects.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

The new pavilion has an asymmetric shape that frames and shelters the new entrance within a long triangular void.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

A matching triangular wall thrusts out to one side of the opening, creating a signage board that appears to have swivelled into position. The architects call this the "wallumn", as a combination of wall and column.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

Glass planks give the extension a variety of transparencies, so anyone passing can catch glimpses of the activities inside.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

A new cafe is inserted beyond the galleries and opens out to a courtyard at the rear, which is set to be re-landscaped as the next stage in the refurbishment.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

The Blaffer Art Museum reopened in autumn 2012 with an exhibition dedicated to American sculptor Tony Feher.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

WORK Architecture Company is headed up by architects Dan Wood and Amale Andraos. Past projects include the headquarters for fashion label Diane von Furstenberg Studio and a temporary urban farming project outside the PS1 Contemporary Art Centre in New York.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

See more art gallery design on Dezeen, including a ridged steel art gallery in Korea and the Louvre Lens in northern France.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

Photography is by Iwan Baan.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

Here's a project description from WORKac:


WORK Architecture Company's Blaffer Art Museum Opens

WORKac's dramatic new addition and renovation of the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas has opened to the public with a twenty-year survey dedicated to influential American sculptor Tony Feher.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

Founded in 1973, the Blaffer Art Museum is a preeminent contemporary art museum without a permanent collection set in the midst of University of Houston's enormous central campus. With high-profile exhibitions that are free and open to the public, as well as extensive educational programs, the museum has the potential to act as a gateway between the university and the city.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

However, its visibility and identity were previously hampered by the fact that its entrance was hidden and accessible only through an internal courtyard. Within, its galleries were excessively impacted by circulation, including a stairway in the middle of two galleries, and another gallery only accessible by a hallway through the administrative offices.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

The project represents an important shift in the approach to museum design in the post-recession age. In order to concentrate only on their core missions, the Blaffer and the University of Houston engaged WORKac to strategically rethink the building's existing features. WORKac's design gives the museum striking presence and public connectivity through a series of imaginative and economical interventions to the building's facade, circulation patterns and exterior spaces.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

To begin, WORKac opened the previously blank north side of the building with a new entrance pavilion. The projecting volume, clad with channel glass in a gradient of semi-transparent and translucent sections reveals a new grand staircase that reroutes all of the problematic circulation routes from the center of the building to the façade, providing street-level views of the museum's interior activities, while also allowing for the expansion and diversification of the museum's gallery spaces. A new entrance zone with a café becomes a commons area that connects the front pavilion with the back courtyard, allowing the public to freely move between city and campus via the museum.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

Unable to afford a cantilever and reticent to simply support the projecting volume of the entry pavilion with a column, WORKac invented the "wallumn", a triangular concrete wall that acts as a column while graphically emphasizing the new entry condition. The existing rear courtyard will soon receive its own upgrade, to provide a flexible and dynamic setting for a continuous program of music, film screenings and other art-related events. New landscaping throughout the exterior area, conceived in partnership with SCAPE Landscape Architects, gives the museum an invigorated sense of place and adds to the rhythm and scale of the pedestrian experience.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

The Blaffer Art Museum is WORKac's first commission in Texas and was completed in association with Gensler Houston as local architect, Matrix Structural Engineers, Shah Smith MEP Engineers and Wade Getz Civil Engineers.

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

Above: concept diagrams

Blaffer Art Museum by WORKac

Above: concept model

  • http://onehourairsanantonio.com Elmer

    It’s astonishing how far we’ve come in architectural design. This is truly a piece of art and looks like a long-lasting structure at the same time.

    • john matisse

      I don’t think we have come very far. It looks pretty much the same as Mies van der Rohe stuff. Lines, boxes, curtain wall. We were on to something cool with Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid et al, then people decided expression was narcissism and decadence and we reverted to the pretentious moralism we always had. Time to move on.

  • Mark

    Probably the worst diagram ever (where’s the museum?).

  • Kate

    Wait, what? I did not expect to come to this website and see my school on the post for today. This addition to our campus is beautiful. A lot of our buildings are outdated, but renovations are constantly taking place. This, by far, has to be my favourite.

  • PeeWeen

    Very well done.

  • Akeel

    I laughed at the “Where is the museum?!” diagram.

  • ygogolak

    They should have cut out some of those channel glass pieces and spent it on cleaning the existing brick. Kind of a shame to have this nice addition and then stained brick.

  • simoes

    The first thing that pops in my head: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3085/2498995760_24

    With the small difference that this is very well done and integrated!

  • K Johnson

    Stunning and provocative.

  • James Cameron

    Oh man that tiny column kills me. So close.