A two-story commercial building at 102 N. Highland Avenue in Marfa, Texas, best known as the Architecture Office of Donald Judd, caught fire overnight. The interior of the building, which was empty at the time and is currently undergoing an extensive renovation led by Houston- and New York-based architecture studio SCHAUM/SHIEH, was “severely damaged” according to an Instagram statement published by the Judd Foundation. The Foundation, which has offices in both Marfa and Manhattan, added that no one was injured in the incident and the cause of the blaze, which was extinguished by Marfa’s volunteer fire department, is currently unknown.
Odessa-based news outlet Your Basin shared dramatic photos of the fire, noting that it reportedly broke out at around 12:30 a.m. Travis Bubenik, a host and reporter with Marfa Public Radio, also shared photos and updates from the scene via his Twitter account.
Judd Foundation provided AN with the following statement from the Foundation’s artistic director, Flavin Judd:
“Right now we know that there was a fire this morning in the Architecture Office. The fire was contained to the building and fortunately no one was injured. As the building was deinstalled for the restoration, it was empty and there were no artworks or objects damaged in the fire. It’s unfortunate as we were weeks away from finishing the restoration but we will rebuild, that’s what we do.”
View this post on Instagram
Built in 1907 as the Glascock Building, Donald Judd purchased the 5,000-square-foot brick structure in 1990 and renovated its street-level storefront into a space for use as an office for his architectural endeavors—thus the building’s contemporary name, Architecture Office. According to the Judd Foundation, the building is home to numerous furnishings and objects designed by Judd as well as a number of plans and models of the late Missouri-born artist’s architectural projects like Bahnhof Ost Basel and Eichholteren, a former lakeside hotel converted into his private residence near Küssnacht am Rigi, Switzerland. Thankfully, as mentioned by Flavin Judd, these items had been temporarily relocated as part of the ongoing renovation of the building, which is the first major project of the Foundation’s three-phase Marfa Restoration Plan. Restoration work on the exterior of the old Glascock building kicked off in 2018.
The Marfa Restoration Plan envisions opening the first floor of the Architecture Office (not to be confused with the Architecture Studio, a neighboring Judd-owned building that was formerly home to the Marfa National Bank and now functions as a gallery space) to the public, “allowing access to Judd’s architectural projects in the permanently installed office spaces.” On the second floor, the building-wide overhaul calls for the reinstallation of Judd’s office, bedroom, and sitting room as well as converting a portion of the space into housing units for visiting scholars working within the Judd Foundation Archives.
Just a couple of blocks away from 102 North Highland, a refresh of Judd’s former residence and studio compound, La Mansana de Chinati or, simply, The Block, was also initiated as part of the Marfa Restoration Plan’s first phase. Future phases will see the Print Building, the Archives Building, the Ranch Office, and other Judd-affiliated structures be restored.
“This is a heartbreaking turn of events for everyone who has put so much care into this restoration effort. We are turning our focus to protecting the remaining structure and supporting the Judd Foundation in the ultimate reconstruction of this historic building in Marfa,” said Troy Schaum, founding partner at SCHAUM/SHIEH and associate professor of architecture at Rice University School of Architecture.
The Marfa Restoration Plan, developed in partnership with SCHAUM/SHIEH with support from the Board of Trustees and the Marfa Restoration Committee, follows five years of research and environmental studies commissioned by the Foundation.