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Interior of the Rothko Chapel, Houston. Rendering courtesy of Architecture Research Office.
Interior of the Rothko Chapel, Houston. Rendering courtesy of Architecture Research Office.

Rothko Chapel in Houston to Reopen in June

The Rothko Chapel—the interfaith sanctuary in Houston, Texas, where art, spiritual contemplation, and social justice meet—has announced that it will reopen following a $30 million restoration in June. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the chapel, which was commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil, houses fourteen monumental canvases by Mark Rothko. Since its dedication in 1971, it has served as a spiritual gathering place for people from across the globe.

Led by the New York–based firm Architecture Research Office, the renovation project expanded the chapel’s campus and executed other changes that preserve Rothko’s original vision for the space. The chapel’s skylight, lighting design, and entryway were reconfigured to better illuminate the fourteen monumental canvases housed within it. The new Visitor Welcome House was added to the north of the chapel, and the Administration and Archives Building, the Meditation Garden, and the Program Center, featuring an outdoor plaza, are being constructed.

The firm also oversaw the removal of all non-essential structures from the grounds in order to emphasize the relationship between the chapel and Barnett Newman’s sculpture Broken Obelisk, which rises above the reflecting pool on the plaza. The sculpture was dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. the same year as the chapel’s founding. Reflecting on the chapel, Christopher Rothko, the artist’s son, said: “The chapel was built with a vision that brought together modern art and a sacred space to promote human unity, solidarity, justice, and peace. The universality of this vision is very relevant for us today and I believe will remain so for generations to come.”