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Arts & Culture

The Menil Breaks Ground On Drawing Institute

Groundbreaking took place Friday morning for the new Menil Drawing Institute and it really will be a one-of-a-kind spot.


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shovels in hand
Groundbreaking for the new Menil Design Institute took place at 11 am this morning by the two architects and five of the arts community’s most popular players. Left to right: Mark Lee, Sharon Johnston, Janet Hobby, Louisa Stude Sarofim, Josef Helfenstein, Mayor Annise Parker, David Breslin.


It was a perfect spring day for breaking ground and Janet Hobby led the team.

“Three, two, one, dig!” Hobby cheered to her fellow shovel wielders on stage as the crowd clapped. The Menil Collection’s campus is about to get messy.

Hobby and six others (Mayor Annise Parker; architects Mark Lee and Sharon Johnston; the Menil’s Josef Helfenstein and David Breslin; philanthropist Louisa Stude Sarofim) sank their shovels into the soft dirt that will eventually hold the Menil Drawing Institute.

muddy construction siteRight now, it’s just a muddy lot surrounded by a wooden fence, but it’ll eventually become a 30,000-square-foot space that unites art, architecture, and nature.

Mark Lee is one of the two architects working on the project. He says it’s been a thrilling but daunting assignment — creating a space that compliments the existing buildings and pastoral landscape of the campus, while also serving as a functional space where artists can work.

“So what we did was, we began to notice the amount of trees (and) the canopy that creates the shadows,” says Lee. “So we began to design courtyards around these trees, so we could begin to incorporate the landscape into the architecture.”

When completed in 2017, the Menil Drawing Institute will be the first free-standing building in the country devoted exclusively to the exhibition and study of modern drawings.


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