Blanton Museum of Art selects Herzog & de Meuron to design landmark new building

Dec. 18, 1998

AUSTIN, Texas—Larry Faulkner, President of The University of Texas at Austin (UT), announced today that Herzog & de Meuron Architekten AG, Basel Switzerland, as Design Architect, in collaboration with Booziotis & Company Architects, Dallas, Texas, as Project Architect, has been awarded the commission to design the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art's new building on the UT campus in Austin. One of the foremost university art museums in the nation, the Blanton, with the largest and most comprehensive collection of art in central Texas, is also the leading art museum serving the city of Austin. Herzog & de Meuron is working on several major museum projects in Europe, including the Tate Gallery of Modern Art currently under construction in London. The Blanton will be the firm's first museum project in the United States.

The selection of Herzog & de Meuron to design the new Museum is the latest step in an intensive planning process undertaken by the Blanton over the last two and a half years. The firm will join a team of Museum staff and University faculty and administrators to design and build the new facility.

The new Blanton Museum is scheduled to open in late 2002 and eventually will encompass more than 100,000 square feet. Located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Speedway, one of the main entrances to the UT campus and the nearby Texas State Capitol, the Museum will serve as a cultural gateway between The University and the Austin and Texas communities. Equipped with state-of-the-art exhibition galleries, classrooms, and facilities for conservation and storage, the new building will enable the Blanton to exhibit a sign)ficant portion of its permanent collection, including the recently acquired Suida-Manning Collection, featuring 700 works of European art from the Renaissance and Baroque.

To date, The University has raised more than $36 million in gifts and pledges for the Blanton's highly successful capital and endowment campaign—an important part of UT's overall effort to raise $1 billion to strengthen its position as one of the nation's premiere public universities. Major support for the new Museum has come from throughout Texas, including lead gifts from Houston Endowment Inc., Mari and James A. Michener, Bernard and Audre Rapoport, Jack S. and Laura Lee Blanton, Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass, and The Brown Foundation, Inc., reflecting the vital role the Blanton plays as a catalyst for the arts at UT and across the state.

"Herzog & de Meuron is known for creating highly imaginative buildings that stand in harmony with their purpose, materials, and site," remarked President Faulkner. "The new Blanton Museum will be not only an architectural landmark for The University and the city of Austin, but a building that will engage students, faculty, and visitors from all backgrounds with the world's artistic traditions."

Jessie Otto Hite, Director of the Blanton Museum of Art, added: "Of the many outstanding architects who pursued the Blanton design commission, Herzog & de Meuron stood out for their international perspective, collaborative approach, and sensitivity to the Museum's teaching mission. After years of planning, we look forward to working with this distinguished firm to realize our vision for the Blanton."

HERZOG & DE MEURON

Respected for their elegant minimalism, innovative use of materials, and mixed styles and building types, Herzog & de Meuron has completed a number of major projects in Europe, including several important museums and arts projects. In addition to the Tate Gallery of Modern Art, expected to open in 2000, the firm has also designed the Gallery for a Private Collection of Modern Art, Goetz Collection, Munich, completed in 1992; Studio Remy Zaugg, Mulhouse, France, completed in 1996; the Museum for the Grothe Collection, Duisberg, Germany, opening in 1999; and the Kunsthaus Aarau, Switzerland, to be completed in 2000. Herzog & de Meuron recently finished their first major project in the United States—the Dominus Winery in Yountville, California—which opened to widespread critical acclaim in May 1998. Other projects include the Kramlich Residence and Video Collection in Oakville/Napa Valley, California, to be completed in 2000, and the Oscar Dominguez Cultural Center in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands. In addition to its base in Basel, Switzerland, Herzog & de Meuron operates subsidiary offices in London and Munich. Four principal architects oversee the firm's projects: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Harry Gugger, and Christine Binswanger.

"We are delighted to work with one of America's leading universities for our first museum commission in the United States," said Jacques Herzog, principal and founding partner. "Our challenge will be to design a museum that is as responsive to the works of art in its galleries as it is to the surrounding campus and city, while complementing the rich legacy of museum architecture found throughout Texas."

BOOZIOTIS & COMPANY

Booziotis & Company Architects (formerly Thomas & Booziotis Architects), headed by senior principal, Bill C. Booziotis, FAIA, is widely respected for its arts-related project experience, including planning and architectural design services for other art museums and galleries. Such projects include the Hamon Building addition at the Dallas Museum of Art in special consultation to Edward Larrabee Barnes, and the recently opened public exhibition pavilions at the Trammell Crow Center, Dallas, displaying the Margaret and Trammell Crow Collection of Asian Art.

The firm was also responsible for the planning and design of the completed renovation and expansion of Sutton Hall and Goldsmith Hall on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. These two landmark buildings, designed respectively by Cass Gilbert in 1916 and Paul Cret in 1933, house the UT School of Architecture. In addition to his professional practice, Mr. Booziotis has served on the Board of Directors of the Dallas Museum of Art.

THE NEW MUSEUM

The Blanton's new building will allow the Museum to unite its collections, exhibitions, and programs under one roof for the first time in its thirty-five year history. Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, the new building will encourage future growth of the collection and will allow greater access to this vital cultural resource for The University and general public alike. Ranging from intimate works on paper to large-scale abstract paintings and contemporary installations, the Blanton's permanent collection includes 12,000 works of art focusing on Europe, America, and Latin America. At present, the permanent collection is housed in two separate buildings on the UT campus and only a small fraction of it can be exhibited at one time.

The architects will build upon a tradition of distinguished architecture, planning, and design on the UT campus, including a 1909 general plan by Cass Gilbert and a 1933 master plan by Paul Cret. The Museum will be one of the first major buildings constructed under the new Campus Master Plan, developed by Cesar Pelli & Associates and adopted in 1996, which reflects a return to the architectural roots of The University's historic core campus. The Blanton will occupy a prime site at The University that offers an extraordinary opportunity for the architects to take advantage of the location's close proximity to Austin's historic Congress Avenue and a number of neighboring resources on and off campus, including the College of Education; Beauford H. Jester Center, The University's largest dormitory with 3,000 students in residence; the Perry-Castaneda Library, the main repository for the fifth-largest academic library in North America; and the Texas State Capitol complex. Located directly across the street from the Blanton will be the new Texas State History Museum, scheduled to break ground in December 1998 and to open in 2001. Herzog & de Meuron will be charged with the task of integrating the new Museum into the fabric of campus life while opening it to the city of Austin and beyond.

When completed, the Blanton will also serve as a cornerstone for Austin's museum and theater district, centered around the UT campus and including the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, the Center for American History, the Texas Memorial Museum, and the Performing Arts Center. Along with the nearby Texas State Capitol and the planned Texas State History Museum, the Blanton will play a fundamental role in attracting visitors to the area, which will provide Austin with a dynamic cultural district encompassing the visual and performing arts, humanities, political science, natural history, and state history. With its new facility, the Blanton will serve as a major research institution as well as a gathering place and center for cultural enrichment for The University, the city of Austin, and the entire state of Texas.

ARCHITECTURAL SEARCH

The Blanton's search for a design architect is the latest step in an intensive strategic planning process undertaken by the Museum to develop a new state-of-the-art facility. The process of selecting the design architect for this important project began last February, when the Blanton sent a Request for Qualifications to more than 200 of the world's leading architectural firms, sixty-one of whom submitted proposals to the Museum.

The Building Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives from The University and patrons of the arts from across Texas, carefully reviewed the past work of these firms, paying particular attention to each architect's responsiveness to clients, environment, and site. In addition, Committee members conducted interviews and site visits, and seven semi-finalists made public presentations on campus, which attracted large audiences from The University and city alike.

Following these lectures, the Committee narrowed the list to three semi-finalists, including Steven Holl Architects, New York; Antoine Predock Architect, Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Herzog & de Meuron. The Committee unanimously recommended Herzog & de Meuron for the design architect commission.

"This building campaign and architect search represent years of hard work and careful planning by The University and the Museum's staff and supporters," noted Jack S. Blanton, former Chair of the UT Board of Regents and a member of the Building Advisory Committee. "Our goal throughout this process was to find an experienced architect with creative methods and a willingness to collaborate—we have found precisely those qualities in the team of Herzog & de Meuron and Booziotis & Company."

JACK S. BLANTON MUSEUM OF ART

Since its opening in 1963, the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art (formerly the Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery) has emerged as one of the foremost university art museums in the country and the leading art museum serving the city of Austin. The Blanton is the principal home for works of art at The University of Texas at Austin, one of the largest research universities in the United States with academic programs and faculty that rank among the top nationwide. The Blanton's permanent collection includes 12,000 works of art that span the history of Western civilization, from antiquity to the present.

Among the highlights of the collection are its strong holdings of modern and contemporary American art, including the Mari and James A. Michener Collection of Twentieth Century American Art; contemporary Latin American art; and prints and drawings from the fifteenth through the twentieth centuries. The Blanton recently acquired the Suida-Manning Collection, comprised of 700 works of European art spanning the fourteenth through the eighteenth centuries. With the acquisition of this Collection, known throughout the world for the quality and depth of its holdings, the Blanton gains international stature as the home of one of the nation's preeminent collections of Renaissance and Baroque art.

As a teaching museum, the Blanton is an important center for scholarship, research, and professional training in the visual arts, and it regularly presents an extensive schedule of special exhibitions and educational programs to The University and surrounding region. The Blanton also serves as a vital component of the cultural life of Austin, the capital of Texas and the second-fastest growing city in the nation, with a metropolitan population of more than one million. Known for its booming hightech industry, live music scene, and burgeoning film business, Austin is now experiencing a dynamic expansion of its arts institutions. As the only encyclopedic art museum in the city, the Blanton contributes to the high quality of life and vitality for which Austin is known. Through its role at The University of Texas at Austin, one of the flagship institutions of higher learning in Texas, the Blanton enriches the cultural life of the entire state, helping people throughout Texas appreciate the history and role of the arts in their personal lives, work, and communities.

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For further information or photographic materials, please contact:

Bill Thompson
Public Affairs Officer
Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art
phone: 512-232-1988
fax: 512-471-7023

Paige Bartels
Assistant Director for Public Affairs
Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art
phone: 512-471-9191
fax: 512-471-7023

Katherine Weber
Resnicow Schroeder Associates, New York
phone: 212-501-8035
fax: 212-877-8182