Gilbane Building Company Celebrates Ribbon-Cutting and Grand Opening for the Menil Drawing Institute

Grand opening event for a one of a kind art facility

Houston, TX – November 6, 2018 – Gilbane Building Company, a global leader in construction and facilities-related services, joined museum leadership, civic officials, cultural leaders, community representatives, artists and supporters recently to celebrate the ribbon-cutting and grand opening of the newly completed Menil Drawing Institute (MDI). The 30,000 SF, $40 million building will serve as the first free-standing facility in the United States devoted to the acquisition, study, exhibition, conservation, and storage of artworks on paper, housing more than 2,500 works by notable 20th century artists, including Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko.

Designed by Johnston Marklee, the building’s design shields sensitive works on paper from natural light, while at the same time filling the common space with carefully modulated sunlight.  Two square, open-roofed, landscaped courtyards serve as entrances – one on the west end of the building and one on the east, while a third courtyard creates a ‘scholars cloister’ on the building’s north side. A large space referred to as the ‘living room’ functions as both a circulation spine and gathering place.  On the south side, the space opens into exhibition galleries.

Another important element of the project is the innovative energy house, a separate facility located to the west of the Menil Drawing Institute building. The new energy house provides a central source of heating and cooling for the entire campus. The Gilbane team was heavily involved in the planning, coordination, and commissioning of the building as well as strategizing ways in which to bring the existing art building’s MEP systems online to the new energy house. Housing priceless artwork, temperature and humidity control within all of the Menil’s art buildings is of utmost importance and required extreme care and coordination to ensure that the facility’s collections remained unharmed throughout the project.

Also included in the project scope was the demolition of the existing Richmont Square Apartments to make way for a park-like greenspace. The park was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and features hundreds of plants and trees, as well as a deck that can serve as a platform for performances and video projections.

“We are grateful to Gilbane Building Company and our many partners who have made the Menil Drawing Institute building, energy house, and other construction projects a reality,” says Rebecca Rabinow, Director of the Menil Collection. “Gilbane understood from the start that these projects all support our core belief that art is essential to human experience. From its inception thirty-one years ago, this museum has fostered direct personal encounters with works of art, and welcomes all visitors free of charge to its art buildings and surrounding greenspaces. As our newest art building, the Menil Drawing Institute will engage with our community, with the entire world of arts, in an exciting new way—and we are immensely proud to welcome everyone to visit, explore, and enjoy.”

“For our team this has been more than “just a project,” but truly an opportunity to participate in a new vision for the arts and academic communities while working with an organization that we hold in the highest regard. The Menil has always been on the forefront of the arts, not only as it relates to artists and works they display, but also prominently in their campus and architecture”, says Dan Gilbane, Southwest Division Leader for Gilbane Building Company, “The success of the team in delivering this project, despite the obstacles encountered, is a great reflection of teamwork guided by the Menil leadership. It has been an honor to be a part of the team.”

Gilbane Building Company has a long history of building some of the Nation’s most prestigious cultural and public spaces including National Air and Space Museum, Vietnam World War II Memorial, and Corning Museum of Glass. In the last 10 years, Gilbane has completed nearly 30 museum projects totaling more than $1 billion and over four million square feet.

About the Menil Collection 

Houston philanthropists and art patrons John and Dominique de Menil established the Menil Foundation in 1954 to foster greater public understanding and appreciation of art, architecture, culture, religion, and philosophy. In 1987, the Menil Collection’s main building opened to the public. It was recently renovated and underwent a complete reinstallation of the permanent collection. For the next year, the main building will host rotating displays composed from the permanent collection and promised gifts. A series of exhibitions devoted to recent acquisitions of works by living artists as well as an artist lecture series are highlights of the coming months.

With the opening of the Menil Drawing Institute, the Menil Collection now consists of five art buildings and greenspaces located within a residential neighborhood. The Menil embodies the ideals and values of its founders, in particular that art is vital to human life and should be readily accessible to all persons.

The Menil Collection is located at 1533 Sul Ross Street in Houston, Texas. The Menil Drawing Institute is located at 1412 West Main Street. All Menil art spaces are open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission to the Menil is always free.

About Gilbane Building Company

Gilbane provides a full slate of construction and facilities-related services – from pre-construction planning and integrated consulting capabilities to comprehensive construction management, general contracting, design-build and facility management services – for clients across various markets. Founded in 1873 and still a privately held, family-owned company, Gilbane has 48 office locations worldwide. For more information, visit

As one of Texas’ largest general building contractors, Gilbane has been fortunate to serve a wide variety of market sectors and clients since establishing a presence here in 1981. As general contractor, construction manager at risk, design/builder or program manager, Gilbane is proud to have had a part in helping Texas grow. Our dedication to successfully responding to the needs of our clients has led us to provide a blend of front-end driven construction management services with the delivery driven services of a builder.