Museum of Fine Arts Houston - Glassell School of Art

Owner: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Lead Design Firm: Steven Holl Architects
General Contractor: McCarthy Building Cos.
Civil Engineer: Walter P Moore
Structural Engineer: Cardno Haynes Whaley
MEP Engineer: ICOR Associates LLC
Architect: Kendall Heaton Associates Inc.
Roofing/Waterproofing: Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing

Intense collaboration and some labor-intensive roofing and waterproofing work were key to completing the $109-million Museum of Fine Arts Houston Glassell School of Art. Designed to be a work of art itself, the building provides a striking new landmark for Houston’s museum district.

A notable challenge was the building’s unique structure, consisting of 175 unique precast panels that connect to beams and hollow-core floor planks. 

The contractor said assembling each section was like putting together a concrete jigsaw puzzle with zero room for error. The structural engineer had to be onsite full time during this process, as no two connections were the same. 

The project exterior features a plaza with a water fountain above an underground garage, which took on 16 ft of floodwater from Hurricane Harvey. The contractor recouped some lost time by bringing in additional crews specifically for hurricane-related work.

Unique to the project is its roof, designed as an outdoor space called the BBVA Roof Garden. The space functions as a green roof and gathering area and features a pergola and amphitheater. A sloped green roof provides walkable access from the plaza to the roof garden. 

Careful scheduling and sequencing were critical to the $3.8-million roof project, which called for extensive waterproofing work to make the building and plaza watertight. Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing installed more than 20,000 sq ft of hot fluid-applied waterproofing underneath the green roof landscaping system and amphitheater in addition to nearly 50,000 sq ft of hot and cold fluid-applied waterproofing to the plaza.

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