Snøhetta’s goal for the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston was to facilitate a more cohesive campus plan for all of the MFAH facilities and enliven the facility’s surroundings - the Cullen Sculpture garden; existing Law and Beck Buildings and the Glassell School; and the adjacent church. Since this district were originally part of a larger urban setting when MFAH was first imagined in the early twentieth century, strengthening the museum’s connection to its larger surrounding was the primary focus.
Taking cues from the Texas vernacular, a great porch coupled with a dog trot style opening was proposed to offer shade, promote natural ventilation and create a unique and welcoming entry.
In addition to the shaded porch and the gentle breezes that Snøhetta’s proposed building massing promotes, a water feature was included in the entry plaza adjacent to the raised sculpture terrace.
The lobby is provided views in all the cardinal directions promoting visual access to the Cullen Sculpture Garden, the new Entry Court, the existing church grounds, and to the beautiful Live Oak canopies along Main Street.
The connection to the Law and Beck Buildings was widened so that it could also be used as gallery space. The Bissonnet connection was designed not as a tunnel or fixed installation art passage, but instead as a widened thoroughfare that can become a gallery. This would promote seamless interactions between the new and existing framework of the museum buildings.