Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


Vignelli Associates

Practice Area


Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


Project Vision

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: Audrey Jones Beck Building

Vignelli Associates feels that signage is but one part of the overall communication of a design concept, and their design for the Museum of Fine Arts reflects this philosophy. Two elements in particular, The Beck Building sign and the donor wall, were given monumental scale to reflect both the colossal Texan size of the new building and its tremendous collection. Rather than merely blow up a known typeface for the Beck Building sign, the designers turned the sign into a sculptural object that was at once communicative and integrated into the fabric of the building. Similarly, the donor wall’s letters were sandblasted into the entire double-height face of the main wall in the lobby, transforming the type into a continuous texture that becomes part of the wall itself.

Project Details
This design approach responds well to a major institutional challenge. Museum donor walls are often an obvious contradiction: convey a sense of permanency but design it to grow and change. This wall succeeds in conveying permanence and it can be added to, yet it dissolves into texture behind the antiquities on exhibition. A similar type/texture relationship animates the exterior building sign.
Juror 1
Design Team

Massimo & Lella Vignelli (Principals in Charge), Peter Vetter, Mischa Leiner, Yoshiki Waterhouse, Christian Altmann, Yuji Yamazaki at Vignelli Associates; Rafael Moneo, Eduardo Miralles, Cristina Carriedo at José Rafael Moneo, Architect; Bill Kendall, Larry Burns, John Goodman at Kendall/Heaton Associates, Inc.

Design Firm

Vignelli Associates


Hines (project), CBM Engineers, Inc. (structural engineer), Altieri Sebor Wieber (mechanical/electrical engineer), Fisher Marantz Stone (architectural lighting design), Walter P. Moore and Associates, Inc. (civil engineer), Ulrich Engineers, Inc. (geotechnical engineer)


Graphtec, Schlitzberger