The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) new Center for Conservation was designed to house the museum’s dispersed conservation studios under one roof for the first time, comprising one of the largest spaces dedicated to conservation at any institution in the world. It is composed of a series of light-filled studios, sat atop an existing museum building, that redefines the campus’s eastern edge to create a pivotal portal into the campus and complement the museum’s evolving architectural lineage.
Four studio bays are cantilevered from the building’s North and West façades to celebrate the buildings function and allow a glimpse of the work going on inside. Designed to maximize daylight while protecting the artwork inside, the studio bays are oriented East/West and topped with shaped roofs and clerestory windows to flood the studios with indirect natural light.
The building leverages an innovative structural strategy utilizing both mass timber and steel structure. It is the first installation of Dowell Laminated Timber (DLT) panels in North America and was prefabricated, panelized and lifted into place, resulting in quicker on-site construction. The structure is left exposed as a finish material to lend the warmth and texture of wood and is whitewashed to reflect daylight into the building.
The Center unites the previously dispersed Painting, Sculpture, Decorative Arts, Paper, Photography, Science, and Imaging departments to best serve the museum’s collection and curatorial efforts. The move will foster greater collaboration and resource sharing between departments.