Asia Society Texas Center

Asia Society Texas Center

A few days ago we got a sneak peek at the $48.4 million Asia Society Texas Center designed by Yoshio Taniguchi. Alex Rosa, our Art Director, and I were in awe and can’t wait to escape our office at deadline for a coffee break in the Center’s café. But I get ahead of myself.

Located in the Museum District, the Center is the only one of its kind in the United States: a freestanding facility dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States across the fields of arts, business, culture, education and policy. Asia Society provides insight, generates ideas and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future.

What does that all mean, right? Well, their mission is very broad, as Executive Director Martha Blackwelder shared. But in a nutshell, this gives the Center the ability to cover so many areas. The best way to see for yourself how huge the Center’s cultural effect will be on the city, check out their First Look Festival on April 14–15. The public opening will feature regional performers traveling from Japan, Vietnam and Australia to present musical, acrobatic and dance performances as well as storytelling sessions and activity stations.

Director of Programs Sabrina Motley, who hails from the Getty in LA and is a plethora of information on all things Asia-related, shared that there will be an unforgettable ribbon-cutting ceremony on opening day featuring 19th-century Japanese Firefighting traditions, Yoginiños for the kiddos, Tai Chi, Arabic & Urdu Calligraphy, Taiwanese kite making, The Mountain Music Project and so much more. We got to see renowned Indian dancer Rathna Kumar perform on a brass plate, which by the way had a nick in it and she still danced on it without cutting herself or falling! Kumar is from India and moved to Houston in 1975, when there were only about 500 Indians, and the Asia Society changed her life. She’s been a member ever since. That’s another story I hope to share with you in the future.

For information about the First Look Festival, visit

Collection of Leigh and Reggie Smith

The space itself is flawless; Taniguchi does not mess around with his material selection. Every material lines up perfectly – from the Jura Limestone slabs which have amazing fossils in them, to the American Cherry Wood covered walls, to the massive and clear-as-water glass windows. Our favorite area is the second-floor Water Garden Terrace overlooking a serene infinity pool which gives off the most mystical, man-created fog over the horizon with an unabashed view to Downtown. The windows even frame a neighboring home as if it were a piece of art.


Speaking of art, Lee Ufan’s commissioned sculpture Relatum– signal, of a large stone and a slab of steel is front and center in the Allen Sculpture Garden.  Houston-born Mel Chin’s The Cabinet of Craving stands 9 feet tall, upon entr, and my favorite, Yoshitomo Nara’s Quiet, Quiet stacked teacups, are in the Fayez Sarofim Grand Hall. Plus the John D. Rockefeller Collection will feature 60 works on view thru September 16, 2012.

Asia Society Texas
opens to the public April 14 – a wonderful addition to the Museum District.