Rothko Chapel reopens in Houston following restoration works

New York-based studio Architecture Research Office led the restoration works at this celebrated sacred space

Monument in the gardens of a reopened chapel
(Image credit: Paul Hester)

Following over a year of closure for restoration works, the Rothko Chapel in Houston has now reopened to the public. The well known sacred space was dedicated in 1971 and features 14 monumental Mark Rothko canvases as per the original vision of the artist and John and Dominique de Menil, the Chapel’s founders.

The project is just the first phase of Opening Spaces, a $30-million master plan for its campus, conceived by New York-based firm, Architecture Research Office. The firm also oversaw the structure's restoration. 

During this process, the building's skylight, lighting design and entryway were reconfigured to be better aligned with the project's original aim so that visitors can freely interact with the artworks. The lighting adjustments were made by specialist design firm George Sexton Associates. Changes have included removing obstructions in order to allow natural light in the open plan interior.

Rothko Chapel interior

(Image credit: PAUL HESTER)

Complementing the chapel, this September also saw the opening of the Suzanne Deal Booth Welcome House, a new built pavilion, which sits immediately to the north of the Chapel. This addition serves as a gathering point for the monument, as well as a formal welcoming space for groups and guided tours and an area for interactive educational opportunities. It also includes a gift shop and bookstore.

The surrounding landscape was redesigned by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, providing ample and serene, green space. A sculpture, Broken Obelisk by Barnett Newman, also sits on the grounds, dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1971 – the same year as the Chapel’s founding. 

This highlights the chapel's commitment to human rights and social justice. The structure has always served as an open spiritual space for both solitude and gathering, dedicated to ‘increased opportunities for spiritual growth and dialogue,' says the institution - welcoming to all, regardless of faith, spiritual or religious background.

Rothko Chapel grounds

(Image credit: Paul Hester)

Rothko Chapel seating

(Image credit: Paul Hester)

Rothko Chapel artwork

(Image credit: Paul Hester)

Rothko Chapel pavilion

(Image credit: Paul Hester)

Rothko Chapel exterior

(Image credit: Paul Hester)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).