Two Artists. One Masterpiece.

Nowhere is our blend of cultures more present than in the architecture of the museum itself. Originally designed by American architect, Philip Johnson in 1972, the Art Museum of South Texas has stood as a landmark on the edge of Corpus Christi Bay. The three-level facility was constructed of poured white concrete and shell aggregate creating a natural relationship with the environment. The windows give way to sweeping views of the bay making them works of art in their own right. In 2006, an expansion lead by Mexican architect, Ricardo Legorreta doubled the size of the space features 13 roof-top pyramids as well as stunning use of color and light.

A beautiful marriage of their unique perspectives, the two buildings come together as one incredible masterpiece proudly representing Mexican and American cultures.

Philip Johnson

About Philip Johnson

Philip Johnson was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1906. He received an A.B. in architectural history from Harvard University in 1930 and upon graduation became the director of the Department of Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. During the 1930s, Johnson championed the cause of many modern architects, most notably Ludwig Mies van Rohe. In 1940 Johnson returned to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, where he trained under Marcel Breuer. He received a B.Arch. in 1943 and practiced architecture in Cambridge, Massachusetts until 1946 when he moved back to New York to serve as director of architecture at MOMA. He became a trustee of MOMA in 1958, received the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1978, and received the Pritzker Architecture prize in 1979.

Ricardo Legorreta

About Ricardo Legorreta

Ricardo Legorreta was born in Mexico City in 1931. He graduated in 1953 from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico with a degree in architecture. While in school, Legorreta worked as a draftsman. After graduating, he worked for Jose Villagran Garcia in Mexico City, becoming a partner in 1955. In 1960 he established his own practice, and in 1964 Legorreta became the principal of Legorreta Arquitectors, Mexico City. The firm subsequently expanded to include son Victor in Legorreta + Legorreta.

Ricardo Legorreta’s most famous work is perhaps the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City. He was awarded the prestigious UIA Gold Medal in 1999, the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 2000, and the Praemium Imperiale in 2011.

History/Timeline

Philip Johnson’s association with Corpus Christi began in the late 1960s when a group of prominent civic leaders and philanthropists had begun a private sector movement to fund and build a new art museum along the Corpus Christi Bayfront. Museum patrons Patsy and Edwin Singer were interested in being more involved with the modern art movement with which Johnson was associated, and traveled to New York City to talk with the internationally renowned architect. Upon being challenged by Johnson to come up with $1 million for the project, Patsy Singer returned to New York within six months with her pledges and sealed the agreement. The Art Museum of South Texas is often identified as one of Johnson’s finest small public buildings and remains an important signal for the still unknown Post-Modernism movement that would begin 10 years later.

In 1997 when it became evident that there was a need to expand the Art Museum campus, the highly respected modernist architect Ricardo Legorreta of Mexico was contacted. Working in the tradition of his mentor, Luis Barragan, Legorreta expressed interest in designing a building that would be appropriate in scale and complement the character of the Johnson building, which he had visited soon after the building opened in 1972. After a fact-finding trip to Mexico City and a subsequent tour by trustees and staff to see major public buildings in Monterrey, the Art Museum board voted to hire Legorreta in 1998. After years of fundraising and support, the newly expanded museum later debuted in 2006 and has been a beacon for creativity and culture ever since.

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