Museum Times Two

Big art news this spring swirls around two brick-and-mortar stories %26mdash; or glass and concrete, as it were. The Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston gets a new addition. The original 14,000-square-foot structure, designed by Caudill Rowlett Scott and dedicated on March 13, 1973, was originally intended to hold benefactress Sarah Campbell Blaffer%26rsquo;s Foundation Collection of Renaissance and Baroque masters (many of which are currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), as well as temporary and traveling exhibitions. Flash forward 30 years. After a call for proposals, Blaffer director Claudia Schmuckli, a specially charged Blaffer board subcommittee and the UH facilities team tapped New York City%26ndash;based WORKac to design the museum%26rsquo;s fresh look. Months after the firm began plans for the Blaffer redux, they were awarded another plum: the New Holland commission for Roman Abramovich and Dasha Zhukova%26rsquo;s reported $400 million arts complex on the historic manmade island in St. Petersburg that once served the Russian navy. While the Blaffer%26rsquo;s modest $2.25 million budget is no match for the Russians%26rsquo; deep pockets, this jewel-box commission will be closely watched internationally for evidence of WORKac%26rsquo;s prowess. The Blaffer%26rsquo;s unveiling will be celebrated at its gala on Friday, April 13. Meanwhile, Asia Society Texas Center has scored its own architectural coup, with a grand-opening reveal planned for April 12 through 15. Grand patroness Nancy Allen and fellow board members have coaxed starchitect Yoshio Taniguchi
(of the famed MoMA expansion) to create his first freestanding building in America: a 39,000-square-foot, $48.4 million project in the Houston Museum District. Watch these pages in April for our exclusive preview of both projects, from the gleaming translucency of the Blaffer%26rsquo;s re-imagined facade and interior spaces to the exquisite, contemplative perfection of Asia Society Texas Center%26rsquo;s new home, complete with oh-so-Zen water elements. It%26rsquo;s a whole new chapter in the saga of Texas architecture.


Rendering of Blaffer Art Museum addition, opening April 2012. Photo courtesy WORKac.

Asia Society Texas Center, opening April 2012. Photo by Paul Hester.

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