Menil Drawing Institute

2012–2018 | Houston TX

Client The Menil Collection
Architect Johnston Marklee
Structural Engineer Guy Nordenson and Associates
Awards 2022 AIA Architecture Awards; 2021 Texas Society of Architects Design Award; 2020 AIA Houston Architecture less than 50K SF Design Award; 2020 AIA Los Angeles Design Honor Award; 2019 Metal Architecture Judges Design Award; 2019 AN Best of Design Award for Cultural; 2017 Progressive Architecture Award; 2016 The Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award

This 30,150sf structure on the Menil Collection campus is the first freestanding facility in the US created especially for the exhibition, study, conservation and storage of modern and contemporary drawings. The large live oak trees on the site inspired the design of the three square, open-roofed courtyards with enclosed volumes set between the courtyards providing the main areas for the building's programs.

A thin, flat roof made of painted steel is the unifying structural element between indoor and outdoor spaces. The outdoor courtyard structure is composed of welded folded steel plates with a series of internal steel stiffeners. Steel plate wall sections are 8in thick and taper to 6in thick at the sloped courtyard roof sections. Shallow steel tube trusses frame the interior courtyard. These steel plate and truss structures allow for unsupported free edges along the courtyards and exterior canopies of up to 60ft in length with minimal structural.

The cast-in-place concrete below grade structure includes an art storage vault designed to protect the vault contents in the event of a flood. This structure has a double concrete slab, double concrete roof, and double concrete walls with passive flood doors.