ARO to Renovate Rothko Chapel

Rothko himself designed the space to inspire action through art and reflection. Image courtesy of Hickey-Robertson.

New York–based firm Architecture Research Office (ARO) has been chosen to revamp Houston’s Rothko Chapel. Structured to inspire action through art and reflection, the space houses 14 striking panels created by mid-20th century abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. Rothko also designed the interior to precise specifications, combining art, architecture, spirituality, and human rights.

“We are honored to be entrusted with work at the Rothko Chapel,” said ARO Partner Stephen Cassell. “For more than 40 years, the Chapel has been a deeply moving experience of personal contemplation that furthers the Chapel’s mission of social action. We feel enormous responsibility toward its future.”

With sensitivity to the artist’s original plan, ARO’s facelift to the chapel will include improvements to its skylight, interior light baffle, and electric lighting with assistance from New York’s George Sexton Associates. Upgrades will also be made to the chapel’s acoustics and HVAC system. The Rothko Chapel’s board also anticipates further upgrades such as additional public and staff space. Updates to the structure’s neighbors—the Menil Collection and the University of St. Thomas—are also expected to increase the attendance at Rothko’s chapel.

ARO completed a similar restoration in 2013 at 101 Spring Street in New York, a cast-iron warehouse purchased by artist Donald Judd in 1968.