One upside of the Menil’s continuing moves towards doing things the way other museums do them is the addition of a much-needed cafe, announced yesterday. The Menil Collection and Rice University’s Rice Building Workshop are joining forces to design and construct a café across Sul Ross Street from the museum’s main entrance, on the 50-by-64-foot plot of land located directly behind the Menil Bookstore.
The indoor-outdoor café, supposedly “inspired by food trucks”, but owing more of it architectural DNA to Philip Johnson’s Glass House, will feature a “service core” opening up to the outside and an expansive roof that encloses a tall indoor seating space and shelters an outdoor deck. The glass-wall front of the café will face the pathway that leads from the Menil parking lot to the museum. Construction is expected to begin next spring, with service beginning the following year.
The project began when Menil Director Josef Helfenstein approached Rice University architecture professors Nonya Grenader and Danny Samuels with the idea of working with Rice architecture students to design a museum café. Said Helfenstein: “Designed to be in harmony with our green, residential surroundings, the Menil café will enhance the neighborhood as well as the visitor’s experience, being a place of welcome, reflection and refreshment.”
Next: a gift shop?