Monday, April 8, 2019
Offsite: Texas Light: The Art & Architecture of the Rothko Chapel
University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design Theater
This course was offered for AIA continuing education credits
Presented in partnership with the University of Houston School of Architecture, this program explored the role of light in creating intentional experiences, and the history of the Rothko Chapel’s architectural design with special focus on the skylight, from conception to post-renovation. The program included presentations by Christopher Rothko, George Sexton, and Stephen Cassell, and will be followed by a moderated conversation by Sandra Zalman, UH Art History Professor.
Christopher Rothko, writer, son of the artist Mark Rothko, and former Chair of the Rothko Chapel Board of Directors, will share the history of the commission and design of the Rothko Chapel, the collaboration between Mark Rothko and original architect Phillip Johnson, the importance of natural light in the Rothko Chapel (and how this differs from Rothko paintings) and the past iterations of the Chapel skylight since its opening in 1971.
Stephen Cassell, founding Principal of Architecture Research Office (ARO), who is leading the restoration effort of the Chapel, will discuss the current state of the Chapel and the planned restoration project, including the new skylight, that will for the first time fully bring the Chapel into alignment with Mark Rothko’s original vision. Cassell will also describe the expansion of the Chapel’s campus with three new buildings that support the Chapel’s public programs.
George Sexton, Founder and Principal of George Sexton Associates, and an expert in museum lighting will discuss how the design of the new skylight and baffle system was developed through the use of a large-scale day-light model. Sexton will also discuss the innovative artificial lighting system that will light the paintings.
This event was included in a series of offsite programs presented by the Rothko Chapel in partnership with Houston-area organizations while the Chapel is closed for renovations. The Rothko Chapel and grounds are closed to the public, to reopen in winter 2019/2020. This temporary closure is the first part of the implementation of the Rothko Chapel Opening Spaces master plan, focused on preserving the Chapel as a unique public art site and spiritual space, serving the growing number of visitors and program participants, and setting the stage for programmatic expansion.