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Images courtesy of Rothko Chapel/ARO


Houston’s renovated Rothko Chapel to reopen in September


An expanded version of Houston’s non-denominational Rothko Chapel is set to reopen in September following a $30m renovation designed by New York firm Architecture Research Office (ARO).

The chapel was founded by art collectors John and Dominique de Ménil, and opened in 1971. It takes the form of an octagonal brick building and contains 14 black-hued paintings by Mark Rothko.


The chapel has been renovated by ARO, together with lighting firm George Sexton Associates, to ensure the space is experienced as “Rothko originally intended”, with a reconfigured skylight and improved lighting design. Work also took place to strengthen the chapel’s environmental stability.


There will also be a “Welcome House”, which will act as a standalone entrance to the chapel, and contain an expanded gift shop and bookstore.


The addition of the entrance allows the chapel to function better as a “place of spiritual renewal and reflection” according to a press release from the chapel.



The building is located two miles southwest of downtown Houston, between a building housing the Ménil Collection and the Chapel of Saint Basil on the campus of the University of Saint Thomas. The surrounding campus has also been landscaped, removing all non-essential structures from the site and park’s boundary. Barnett Newman’s sculpture, Broken Obelisk, and reflecting pool are still in place.


David Leslie, Rothko Chapel’s executive director, said: “The expanded campus gives us the space we need to welcome the tens of thousands of people of all faiths and backgrounds who visit each year from all parts of the world, and allows us to convene community leaders and members of the public to wrestle with the questions of social justice and human rights.


“This is a moment that the world needs the chapel more than ever, as our global community continues to face uncertainties amidst the ongoing crisis.”


A second phase of development, with work on an administration and archives building, relocated and renovated guest house, meditation garden and programmes centre, is still to be completed.


Images courtesy of Rothko Chapel/ARO


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