Terri Meyer Boake BES BArch MArch LEED AP
Associate Professor :: Associate Director :: School of Architecture :: University of Waterloo

Menil Gallery / Menil Collection

Renzo Piano Workshop

Houston, Texas


Project Information:

The gallery project was funded by Dominique de Menil to house her growing collection of art as well as to be a cultural piece for the City of Houston. The building was constructed between 1982 and 1986, some 10 years after Renzo Piano had been involved with Richard Rogers in the award winning design for the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France. All of Piano's works are uniquely designed, using the most appropriate technology and materials of the time. His "assemblage" style takes good advantage of the properties of steel construction methods and connections.

Client: Menil Foundation

Architects: Piano & Fitzgerald, architects

Design Team: S. Ishida (associate in charge), M. Carroll, F. Doria, M. Downs, C. Patel, B. Plattner (associate architect), C. Susstrunk

Consultants: Ove Arup & Partners (P. Rice, N. Nobel, J. Thornton) (structure); Hayne & Whaley Associates (services); Galewsky & Johnston (local services); R. Jensen (fire prevention)

more info: Great Buildings Online, Piano Pritzker Prize 1998,
drawings and details: Renzo Piano Workshop Official Site
periodical references: Progressive Architecture May 1987, Architectural Review ? 1987.

Project Images:

The structure uses normal sections, exposed as only can be achieved in a hot climate, combined with a specialty cast steel truss support system for the lightweight concrete (ferro-cement) scooped shading devices that constitute the entire ceiling plane, both inside and outside the building.
South facade of the building.

Detail of the connection between the cast steel trusses and the WF column support system.
A relatively flat glass skylight system surmounts the scoops, held aloft with steel pipe sections.

Courtyard at north entry side of building.
View along north side of building.
Corner detail at external steel structure with WF sections. .
Detail of WF column and base detail along exterior of building.
Base plate connection detail at column base of exterior arcade.
Shading devices extend over the south facing windows that lead into the office space on the second floor.
View along south elevation. The hedge provides additional shade to a large glazed wall immediately behind..
Sunlight along east facade of building.
Connection of cast truss to the building along the main support line of the structural system.
Close up detail of cast trusses. Plates are inserted along the top and bottom flanges with 3 bolts through each side of the truss to next truss splice type connection.
View along main hall that runs the length of the gallery..
Interior view of sculpture gallery looking north. No direct sunlight is allowed into the gallery because of the specially designed scoops.


These images are for educational use only and may not be reproduced commercially without written permission. tboake@sympatico.ca

Updated June 5, 2008