SCHAUM/SHIEH Designed This New Houston Gallery to Feel Like It Could “Scatter Like Cards”
The building will be operated by the Transart Foundation, an organization that explores the connections between art and anthropology.
Situated in a block of sleepy low-rise houses in Houston, the new Transart Foundation for Art and Anthropology makes for a striking sight. However, the building fits nicely in with several cultural institutions located just a few blocks away, specifically the The Menil Collection, Cy Twombly Gallery, and Houston Center For Photography. This new independent gallery, designed by Houston and New York–based firm SCHAUM/SHIEH, aims to host exhibitions, performances, and discussions about the role of art in everyday life.
To support this program, the project includes a 3,000-square-foot main building that houses two galleries (both on the first floor), as well as a meeting room, office, and library on the upper floors. Of the two galleries, the sun-lit, south-facing space will mostly host traditional exhibitions while the second gallery is reserved for performances or media that could require more stringent lighting control. The two venues are divided by a circulation core that includes a prominently-cantilevered meeting room.
The interior programming also helped shaped the exterior’s sculptural stucco-surfaced form. The architects say they designed the curved openings to provide indirect lighting in the south-facing gallery, thereby protecting the artwork within from solar damage. “We were pursuing a sense of overall lightness,” SCHAUM/SHIEH says in a press release, adding that “we were interested in how the geometry and material finish might make the building feel like it could blow away in the wind, ruffle like fabric, or disperse and scatter like cards.”