The New York-firm WORK Architecture Company is retooling the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston. The intervention, which includes a new entrance and circulation plan, should dramatically boost the visibility of the museum. It shares a large 1970s concrete building with the university’s art school, and it is currently accessed off an interior courtyard. The architects are moving the entrance to the north side of the building, with a new cantilevered interior staircase serving as a portico.
Though facade appears to be completely transparent in the renderings, the architects tell us it will include bands of clear and textured channel glass. The new staircase will simplify circulation in the galleries (the current staircase rises up into the middle of one of the second floor galleries). All the spaces will receive new lighting, furniture, and finishes, though the architects expect to keep things quite simple. Working with Gensler as the architects of record, and SCAPE landscape architecture, the renovation will also include the courtyard, which will be redesigned to include cafe and event space.
The renovation will only add about 500 square feet to the 11,000 square foot museum. “It’s small, but we expect it will have a big impact,” said project architect Anne Menke of WORKac. The museum will break ground this summer with the completion date set for January 2012.