Analyzing a Built Environment: The Blanton Museum

Blanton Museum (built in 2005)To the unacquainted, this trapezoidal building looks like has been a part of the University for many years – maybe recently remodeled. With indigenous red clay roofing tiles and a limestone facade the Blanton Museum blends right in with its younger siblings to the north.

The Blanton seems only to function as a southern gateway to our three hundred and fifty acre campus. As one of the first buildings commissioned under the Campus Master Plan, inducted May 1999 by former President Larry Falkner to “preserve our traditional public spaces and extend that sense of harmony,” its exterior architecture conforms to the “grand classical tradition” of the 1930’s – akin to the Main Building and the area surrounding the tower.

Void of the word “museum” on its exterior, the “largest university art museum in the country” radiates no Garisson Hall (looks like the Blanton + windows, build in the 1930's)sensations of “art.” Instead she reflects the apparent values held by the composers of the Campus Master Plan: scale, traditionalism, and influence. This “heartbreaking step backwards” caused Larry Speck to resign as Dean of the School of Architecture.

It saddens me that the $87 million dollar chance we had at creating a building that could have been, as Jacques Herzog put it, “a work of art and a major step towards achieving architectural unity on this campus” is no longer.

Herzog & de Meuron’s rendering for The Good Blanton

EDIT: a conversation between Jacques and Regent Donald Evans

18 thoughts on “Analyzing a Built Environment: The Blanton Museum”

  1. Nice writeup. Thank you. While I find the style of the new buildings, or at least the materials, aesthetically pleasing, as you argue, it’s completely inappropriate for an art museum.

    The bottom illustration looks really cool. Any higher resolution versions available?

  2. Nice writeup. Thank you. While I find the style of the new buildings, or at least the materials, aesthetically pleasing, as you argue, it's completely inappropriate for an art museum.

    The bottom illustration looks really cool. Any higher resolution versions available?

  3. as an interior design student i couldn’t agree with you more…since when do art museums fit into the “blankston” (as we affectionately refer to this building) motif of everyday academia…it’s a museum meant to not only house works of art but be one in its own rite…i could go on…but i’ll let your blip speak for itself

  4. as an interior design student i couldn't agree with you more…since when do art museums fit into the “blankston” (as we affectionately refer to this building) motif of everyday academia…it's a museum meant to not only house works of art but be one in its own rite…i could go on…but i'll let your blip speak for itself

  5. this past thursday i went to a special topics lecture by mike greenburg he is a regular columnists for the san antonio express news…it’s a kind of social/culture commentary. anyways it was an awesome lecture kinda reminded me of your post…it was about preserving the integrity of architecture and so much more. working on getting his powerpoint maybe i’ll send it to you.

  6. this past thursday i went to a special topics lecture by mike greenburg he is a regular columnists for the san antonio express news…it's a kind of social/culture commentary. anyways it was an awesome lecture kinda reminded me of your post…it was about preserving the integrity of architecture and so much more. working on getting his powerpoint maybe i'll send it to you.

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