MFAH's expansion to complete largest cultural project in North America

The opening of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building next fall will complete the multi-year expansion and redevelopment of the Sarofim Campus at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

The Kinder Building will be dedicated to installations from the MFAH’s collection of 20th- and 21st-century art. The building will open with an exhibition highlighting major collections never before presented in depth.
The redevelopment of the Sarofim Campus and related off-site, art-storage facilities is the largest cultural project currently in progress in North America, with some 650,000 square feet of new construction.

Inaugurated in 2012 with the selection of Steven Holl Architects and undertaken through a $450 million capital campaign, the project will unify the campus by creating 14 walkable acres. It has already added a public plaza and two buildings to the MFAH: a new home for the Glassell School of Art and the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation.

The Kinder Building is the final component of the plan as the third gallery building on the Sarofim Campus, joining the museum’s original Caroline Wiess Law Building (designed in the 1920s by William Ward Watkin, with later extensions by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) and the Audrey Jones Beck Building (designed by Rafael Moneo and opened in 2000).

Steven Holl Architects has designed the Kinder Building to stand in complementary contrast to these existing structures and to create a dialogue with Isamu Noguchi’s 1986 Cullen Sculpture Garden, which Holl’s gallery building fronts on one side. The trapezoidal concrete building is clad in vertical glass tubes that will emit a soft glow at night, through composed patterns of illumination across its facades. Five rectangular courtyard pools are inset along the perimeter, reinforcing the building’s openness to its surroundings.

The Kinder Building is 183,528 square feet overall, excluding 53,685 square feet of belowground parking on two levels. With more than 100,000 square feet of space, or 56 percent, dedicated to the presentation of works of art, the Kinder Building increases overall MFAH exhibition space by nearly 75 percent. Additional features of the building include a 215-seat theater for film screenings and a restaurant and café on the ground level.

A series of seven major site-specific commissioned artworks will be inaugurated with the Kinder Building, serving as portals that connect this new structure with the other components of the campus. Commissioned artists are El Anatsui, Byung Hoon Choi, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Olafur Eliasson, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Cristina Iglesias and Ai Weiwei.

The master plan also adds public plazas and gardens to the campus. Green spaces and upgraded sidewalks, street lighting and wayfinding are creating an urban oasis in the increasingly dense Museum District.

“The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has, over the last dozen years, become one of this nation’s fastest-growing art museums in terms of collections, programs, and audience,” MFAH Director Gary Tinterow said. “For some eight years now, through our campus plan, we have been stepping up in every way to match the growth, diversity and dynamism of our city. When we open the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building in fall 2020, we hope to welcome the entire world to an expansive, beautifully designed complex of buildings and urban gardens, revealing the previously unsuspected riches of an international collection we could never before exhibit in such range and depth.”

The MFAH has surpassed its original $450 million campaign goal, raising $472 million to date. Nearly 100 percent of  the donations have come from within Houston, with principal gifts provided by Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim and the Kinder Foundation.

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