A New Campus for the Rothko Chapel

The renewal of the Rothko Chapel building realizes Mark Rothko’s original vision and the expansion of its campus strengthens the Chapel’s mission of social action.

Photograph of the Rothko Chapel with Broken Obelisk and Plaza in the foreground
The south campus is comprised of the Chapel, plaza and Broken Obelisk, as well as a new surrounding landscape.

The design challenge was two-fold: to restore the sense of awe that visitors experience in the presence of Mark Rothko’s fourteen monumental paintings; and to create a new campus which is grounded in both the singular power of the Chapel and the unique character of the neighborhood without overwhelming them.

animation of original chapel interior and skylight, existing chapel interior and skylight, and proposed chapel interior and skylight
The new Chapel renovation restores Rothko’s original intent for daylighting the interior space by replacing the central skylight with a new skylight featuring a custom light-diffusing assembly.
Aerial rendering of restored Rothko Chapel, new campus, and meditation garden
Aerial rendering of the Rothko Chapel and its new North Campus and meditation garden.
  • axonometric site plan of proposed Rothko Chapel campus cut through the chapel and program center interior
    The phased campus expansion reorients the visitor sequence with a journey through a new landscape that prepares the visitor for the intense experience within the Chapel.
  • axonometric site plan of existing Rothko Chapel
    Original conditions.
  • axonometric site plan of Phase 1 Rothko Chapel campus
    Completed Phase I new campus.
  • axonometric site plan of proposed Rothko Chapel campus
    Proposed Phase II campus expansion.

Connected to the Chapel grounds across Sul Ross Street, a new north campus is an ensemble including the Suzanne Deal Booth Welcome House (Phase I), Program Center, Archive and Office building, Energy House (Phase I) and relocated guest house. While the Chapel is intended for introspection as a sanctuary for contemplation, the new campus is designed to invite the outside world in, supporting the institution’s call to social action.

  • A direct path leads from the Chapel to the north campus. A shaded porch greets visitors at the Suzanne Deal Booth Welcome House.
  • Exterior photograph of Welcome House lit up at night
    Walls of brick and glass signify its public function and relationship to the Rothko Chapel.
  • Integrated into the residential scale of the neighborhood, the new north campus is organized around a public courtyard, which extends the interior program spaces.
  • Rendering of visitors watching a presentation in the program center with views out to the courtyard
    The Program Center supports the Rothko Chapel’s expanding public programming by reducing the frequency of events in the Chapel, strengthening the visitor experience. The large glazed wall provides a public face to the community and allows events to open onto the courtyard.

The project is targeting LEEDv4 certification.

Lighting Designer: George Sexton Associates
Landscape Architect: Nelson Byrd Woltz


2022 AIA Houston, Design Award, Restoration/Renovation

2022 Architizer, A+ Awards, Special Mention

2022 Preservation Houston, Martha Peterson Award

2022 ARCHITECT, Light & Architecture Design Awards, Honor – Whole Building

2021 Docomomo US, Award of Excellence

2021 Chicago Athenaeum, American Architecture Award

2020 Architect’s Newspaper, Editor’s Pick

2020 Interior Design, Best of Year

2020 AIANY, Merit Award

Building Museums 2021 Rothko Chapel Aligning Mission and Intent
Private: ARO and Christopher Rothko present Aligning Mission and Intent | Building Museums Symposium 2021
Rothko Chapel at 50 Design Team Anniversary Lecture
Watch Adam Yarinsky and Team Present the Rothko Chapel
Watch a Replay of The Glass House conversation on the Rothko Chapel
Rothko Chapel in ARCHITECT
Rothko Chapel in ARCHITECT
Rothko Chapel Restoration and Broken Obelisk
Houston’s Rothko Chapel in WSJ Magazine
Rothko Chapel Architectural Digest
Rothko Chapel in Architectural Digest
Rothko Chapel in Architectural Record
Rothko Chapel Campus Renovation Elle Decor
Rothko Chapel in Elle Decor
Rothko Chapel National Review Hester
Rothko Chapel in National Review
Rothko Chapel Architect's Newspaper
Rothko Chapel in The Architect’s Newspaper
Rothko Chapel in the Dallas Morning News
Rothko Chapel in The Dallas Morning News
Rothko Chapel in The New York Times
Rothko Chapel in The Wall Street Journal
Rothko Chapel view from plaza in Wallpaper Magazine
Rothko Chapel in Wallpaper*
Rothko Chapel in the Wall Street Journal
New Rothko Chapel skylight on cover of texas architect
Rothko Chapel the Texas Architect Cover Story
Cover of Constructs Fall 2021 edition
Constructs, Making Houston Modern Review, 2021
The Architect’s Newspaper, Posthumous Collaborations, August 2019