opening spaces campaign

illuminating the next 50 years

Opening Spaces is a vital capital project focused on enriching the Rothko Chapel experience by preserving the Chapel as a unique sacred art site and spiritual place, and featuring a new north campus and expanded green spaces. 

In June 2017 the master site plan was approved by the Board of Directors. Over the next twelve months the Chapel collaborated with design partners to develop an innovative and holistic architectural, landscaping and lighting intervention that pays tribute to the Chapel's original design while addressing critical infrastructure needs. The design approach and materials for the Opening Spaces project were informed by a year-long feasibilty study guided by the goals of the project and the founders' original intent. This process involved extensive historical research; interviews and consultations with a wide range of primary sources; analysis of existing building conditions; investigations into the building's construction and previous interventions; community conversations and feedback; and the preparation of numerous rehabilitation and planning options. Central to the project are sustainability plans and efforts to ensure the landmark's future for generations to come. 

The master plan re-envisions the Chapel's campus and facilities through the following elements:

Chapel restoration

The skylight, lighting design and entryway of the Chapel will be reconfigured, allowing for a more profound and better illuminated interaction with both art and space. The vestibule will be returned to an open configuration providing a seamless transition between the entrance and sanctuary. Critical preservation initiatives and upgrades will help to ensure that Mark Rothko's extraordinary paintings and their environment are preserved and experienced as they were intended by Mark Rothko and John and Dominique de Menil. The restored Rothko Chapel building will enhance the visitor's engagement with the artwork and the sense of sanctuary that facilitates community connection and dialogue.

visitor welcome house 

Envisioned as the gateway to the expanded campus, the new Visitor Welcome House will embody a core value of the Chapel's founding vision—hospitality—for those seeking further engagement with the Chapel's mission, history, and programming. Relocation of visitor services from the Chapel vestibule to this new welcome house will reinforce the spiritual and meditative aspects of the Chapel, heightening the visitor experience. The Visitor Welcome House will feature didactic and historical displays, an expanded gift shop and bookstore, and will serve as a gathering point for groups and guided tours. 

energy facility, preservation and infrastructure

Relocating the Chapel's mechanical and control systems from below-ground to a second-story energy facility with a backup chiller and generator will help to ensure environmental stability for the Chapel through weather emergencies. Landscape and drainage improvements will also work to safeguard the campus. 

program center

This major new facility will accommodate an enriched range of public programs, receptions, special events, private and community services, and presentations including symposia and workshops. The center will serve the Chapel's growing audiences, allow for more programming flexibility and scope, and provide space for new partnerships and expanded community outreach. 

administration and archives building

New offices, conference and meeting rooms, library and archives space, will support operations and research. 

landscaping and grounds

Recognizing that the grounds are an extension of the Chapel experience, the reconfigured campus will feature improved access and unobstructed views of the Chapel and Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk, emphasizing the unity of the buildings and grounds. Open landscapes and new green spaces for reflection, including the creation of a new meditation garden, will foster a sense of sanctuary and enhance the connection to the neighborhood.

guest house

A renovated bungalow will host Chapel speakers and special guests, as well as scholars-in-residence. 

endowment

Growing the Chapel's endowment will provide ongoing funding for the maintenance of new and restored properties and for expanded programming and operations.

donate

If you would like to make a contribution to the capital campaign, click here to donate now!

the Chapel's 50th anniversary 

The Rothko Chapel's $30 million capital project pays tribute to the first 50 years of it's artistic and spiritual legacy, while looking to serve new generations of visitors to the Chapel, it's campus and programs. 

support Opening Spaces 

Thank you for your interest in the Opening Spaces project. Please click here for ways to donate to the capital campaign. For inquiries or additional information on ways you can help, please contact Thuy M. Tran, Director of Advancement, at 713.660.1405.

project partners

Principal Architect: Architecture Research Office
​Lighting Designer: George Sexton Associates
​Landscape Architect: Nelson Byrd Woltz
Project Manager: The Projects Group
Construction Manager: Linbeck Group

in the media

Why you'll be seeing Houston's Rothko Chapel in a new light - Houston Chronicle

Removing art from Rothko Chapel is a moving experience - Houston Chronicle

Rothko Chapel is officially closed for the rest of the year - KHOU11

The Push to Preserve a Rothko Masterpiece - The Wall Street Journal

Rothko Chapel to Be Seen in New Light - The New York Times

Rothko Chapel Closes In March For Major Renovations - Houston Public Media

Restoring Rothko Chapel, Renovating Houston Campus in $30M Multi-Phase Project - Forbes

ICYMI: You Have Less than 3 Months to Enjoy the Rothko Chapel - Houstonia 

Rothko Chapel to close for most of 2019 - Houston Business Journal