In February, the Menil Collection, the large Houston museum campus that showcases the vast private collection of John and Dominique de Menil, revealed the design of the Menil Drawing Institute (MDI). This new facility is dedicated entirely to the preservation and exhibition of drawings, which are highly delicate pieces of art.
The MDI's design, by Los Angeles-based architectural firm Johnston Marklee, fits in beautifully with the rest of the museum's campus while retaining its own identity. The two Principals, Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, said in a statement to The Architect's Newspaper that they were inspired by the natural beauty of the site as well as its purpose:
"The site itself showed us the way forward. The gardenlike character of the campus with its tree-shaded streets of bungalows gave us the clues we needed to find the right scale, resolve the relationship between interior and exterior spaces, and, above all, modulate the light."
In the team's design drawings, the dappled use of light is evident. Rigid patches created by the building's open courtyards intermix with the speckles making their way through the canopy of leaves above. Juxtaposed with the building's clean lines, featuring angular, downsloped roofs and floor-to-ceiling windows, this natural, unfettered light lends a warm peace to the space, as well as a stage for the ever-changing strength and angle of the sun.
According to the source, Johnston Marklee worked with the New York City lighting design team at George Sexton Associates to create this lovely effect.
It's inspiring to see a design so centered around the dynamic nature of light - we can't wait to visit the Institute once it's complete! To learn more about the project, visit Johnston Marklee's and the Menil Collection's websites.