Houston – McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. has completed construction on the Holocaust Museum Houston, Lester and Sue Smith Campus. The extensive demolition and expansion project more than doubles the building’s original size from 21,000 square feet to 57,000 square feet, making the museum the fourth-largest Holocaust museum in the United States. Construction on the structurally complex building began fall 2017.
“The Holocaust Museum Houston project is very unique in that nearly the entirety of the exterior structure and interiors were demolished, replacing it with essentially four structures, while protecting irreplaceable artifacts,” said Jim Stevenson, McCarthy Houston Division President. “Further, there’s symbolism in almost every design component and it affects not only the final product, but it also affects the way we build it. McCarthy was proactive during the design phase to ensure the finished museum would be both a functional and unique space that educated and inspired visitors.”
Located in the heart of the Museum District of Houston, the LEED certified project consisted of razing and replacing the original one-story with a larger three-story building. The first floor includes newly expanded galleries which feature a Holocaust Gallery, Human Rights Gallery and Young Diarists’ Gallery that includes Anne Frank. The second floor houses The Albert and Ethel Herzstein Theater which now has double the number of seats. Also added to the museum is the Samuel Bak Gallery and Learning Center, a 2,000-square-foot classroom space as well as a three-story butterfly loft which houses 1500 iridescent butterflies representing the 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust. The third floor consists of new administrative offices and the Boniuk Library, which contains more than 10,000 volumes, 285 oral testimonies and additional education tools for in-house research and genealogical searches. The project also included an amphitheater, parking lot expansion and monument sign.
Several important portions of the existing building stayed in-tact during construction including the Memorial Room, interior metal panels, interior stucco and glass walls at the center of the project site. Additionally, exterior components such as the Memorial Wall and pavers, monument signs, exterior masonry and site precast also stayed in place and required protection throughout the construction process.
McCarthy has a long-standing history of building complex, architecturally significant projects for the arts industry. In addition to the Holocaust Museum Houston, Lester and Sue Smith Campus, McCarthy’s Texas portfolio of arts and institutional projects includes the Kinder High School for Performing and Visual Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Glassell School of Art, and in Dallas, the award-winning AT&T Performing Arts Center Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, and the Dallas City Performance Hall.