The Museum of Fine Arts Houston -Nancy and Rich Kinder Building is the final component in the eight-year project to expand and enhance the museum’s campus. The area around the perimeter of the building is easily recognized as an extension of the art being exhibited within the Museum of Fine Arts. The Carnelian granite site paving and steps offer an inviting public entry to the Kinder Plaza from the adjacent Cullen Garden and Glassell Addition. The building perimeter is protected by architectural precast walls, benches and expansive horizontal surfaces in front of the recessed glass walls. The irregular paving pattern with its directional changes provides the path to the one of a kind Iglesias Sculpture that is just outside the main entrance to the Museum.
Additionally, there are five water feature pools strategically located around three sides of the building. The pools are comprised of cubic Mesabi Black granite perimeter walls and granite paving; along with a “floating” precast walkway to connect egress doors to the plaza. Lastly, there is the infinity pool just outside the Museum restaurant, with its Maillol sculpture centerpiece. These design elements seamlessly blend with the Museum buildings creating a walkable urban oasis for the complex.
The directional changes of the irregular paving pattern combined with the slope changes required extra attention to avoid lippage. Furthermore, the paving required precise layout and tight quality control to meet points of transition in the paving pattern. Our field supervisors paid close attention to the detailed layout and the required interface with other exterior components in order to ensure the design intent was maintained.
The five water features, with their below water skylights, required an intricate waterproofing system; waterproofing that could not be compromised during the installation of the stone perimeter wall and the precast walkway. The cubic stone perimeter was interlocked stone to stone in the head joints with stainless steel biscuits and epoxy, thereby avoiding the need to penetrate the vertical waterproofing membrane behind the cubic granite perimeter wall. In the same fashion, a method to secure the floating precast walkway without damage to the pool bottom waterproofing was required. Initially, the precast walkway was to be welded in place to concrete embeds; however, in that access to the bottom legs and waterproofing after installation was a major concern, the team worked to develop a more forgiving means of placing and securing the walkways. Recessed pockets were added to the pool bottoms at the location of the precast legs. The pool bottoms were then waterproofed prior to the placement of the walkways. The walkways were set level and in the precise line to properly access the doors; afterwards, the recessed pockets were filled with non-shrink pourable grout to secure the precast in position and allow placement of the stone paving…all without any damage to pool waterproofing.
The 64-foot perimeter at the infinity pool has a very tight working space of only 1” between the waterfall edge and the plaza paving. The top edge of the vertical face stone, needing to be perfectly level for the entire 64-foot perimeter, was set to the exact required level with adjusting nuts at the threaded epoxied dowels located at the base of the face stone. The time and effort put into the installation of the waterfall edge pieces was completed without any problems in the water flow and provided the intended result of the classic infinity pool edge.
The perimeter is very unique in its design; and you realize that this “work” in itself is to be appreciated as art, just as much as any other exhibit.