The lobby of the Museo Medical Office Building in Houston with the certified reproduction of the Nike of Samothrace at left. Photo by Sean Fleming /smfleming.com
HOUSTON, TX – Museo is a mixed-use development comprised of a medical office building, a five-star hotel and a 58-story residential tower in the heart of Houston’s legendary Museum District. Inspired by the surrounding neighborhood’s dedication to art, science, and culture, the vision for Museo was created by Marko Dasigenis, principal of PJMD Architects, who has designed several award-winning projects, such as the Chapel of St. Thomas and the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Houston, among others.
Dasigenis worked with the building’s owner, prominent Eye Surgeon Dr. Mike Mann, and the design intent was to combine the healing arts with the latest medical technology in a state-of-the-art medical office building.
“The completion of this building represents a dynamic addition to the neighborhood that properly honors the abundance of museums and galleries that surround it in every direction. Utilizing principles of early 20th century Analytical Cubism, the angular crystal blue forms and green rectangular shapes, create a colorful composition of forms and surfaces that evoke the colors of the Aegean Sea,” Dasigenis said.
Dasigenis worked closely with New York architectural colorist Carl Black to create a colorful composition of forms and surfaces that evoke artistic images and patterns from Ancient Greece.
Dasigenis, Black, and Mann personally sourced 6,000 square feet of rare white marble on a trip to the Greek island of Thasos in the North Aegean Sea that has since been cut to measure for the building’s striking lobby. Thasian marble is the purest white marble in the world and contains tiny crystals that reflect the sunlight and were believed to have therapeutic qualities in ancient baths during the Greek and Roman times.
Envisioned as an uplifting entry point for patients and their families, the star attraction in the building’s lobby is a true reproduction of the Winged Victory (Nike) of Samothrace. The original statue has resided in the Louvre Museum after its discovery in 1863 on the Greek island of Samothrace. The 24-ton, 13-foot high replica is carved out of a single piece of Thasian marble and is one of only two certified reproductions, based on a 3D scan provided by the Louvre. It took six months of robotic work and fine precision finishing by an expert sculptor of FHL Kiriakidis in Prosotsani, Greece, to complete the painstakingly detailed statue.
The statue of Nike commemorates the great naval victory of the Rhodians and depicts Nike as she alights onto a combat deck at the bow of the ship in a fierce headwind with misting sea spray and her great wings aloft. A symbolic bash ram ship was designed by Dasigenis based on an image found on a silver Macedonian Tetradrachm coin from the early 3rd century BC. The ship forms the base of the statue, with the ram protruding from the bottom of the bow, used as a “bash” to ram the hull of an attacking ship.
The statue’s prominent position at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, where she was discovered, played an important role in creating the uplifting qualities of the sacred space. At Museo, this historical significance is represented by a bronze map embedded in the lobby’s terrazzo floor that depicts Nike’s positioning in relationship to the Amphitheater and Stoa. The floor map of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods provides clues that explain the statue’s original setting within the contextual setting of the Sanctuary.
The statue was intended to be seen from a three-quarter left view rather than the frontal position as currently displayed in the Louvre Museum. Nike’s figure forms a right-angled triangular composition only seen from her left side. The triangle is defined by the long vertical line of her right leg, and the slanting line of her left leg leading up to the torso. The folds of her garments, draped over the generous lines of her body, generate a forward and upward movement that sends an uplifting energy to the perceiver. The great left wing adds considerably to the dynamic feel of the composition.
The sculpture is much plainer on the right side, as the sculptor must have thought it was not worthwhile expending so much effort on a side rarely seen by onlookers. The back of the statue is quite plain, for the same reason. The rotation of Nike in relation to the back wall in the Museo lobby was intentional to reflect the original setting’s orientation carved into a hillside niche so that she can be viewed by visitors primarily from her left side.
The “Mati” pattern on the perimeter of the lobby floor is an adaptation of an Archaic Cycladic pattern and symbolizes the Mann Eye Institute healing of the eye. It is carved out of four different types of marble that have been assembled to form the shape of the eye in a pattern inspired by the wavy border geometry of the Aegean Island patterns.
In a specially designed alcove of the lobby, the statue of a naked youth – Kouros – is one of the first examples of human anatomy during the Archaic Hellenic period which dates to the 6th century BC.
The statue is 9 feet high, weighs 3 tons, and was sculpted in Northern Greece out of a single piece of Thasian marble. The human anatomy and musculature are expressed as decorative patterning on the surface of the marble in exquisite detail. Kouros does not represent any one individual young man, but rather the general idea of youth by embodying the virtue of “arete” – a combination of moral and physical beauty.
The youth is portrayed in perfect physical condition, smiling with the left foot forward as though he were in a ceremonial procession. His smile expresses the Arkhaïkón Meidíama, or the Divine Smile. This smile is the response to the experience of a special happiness called Makariótis, a blessed joy gained through valor and heroic death.
“Ultimately, I wanted this building to bridge the gap between the healing arts and the visual arts, and we will have succeeded in doing that if patients feel inspired, rather than deflated, by a trip to the doctor’s office,” concluded Dr. Mann.
About Museo Medical Office Building
Museo Medical Office Building, 5115 Fannin Street in Houston, is a 10-story Class “A” LEED Certified professional medical tower anchored by Mann Eye Institute representing Phase I of a mixed-use urban project rooted in art, science, and culture. Developed by Testa Rossa Properties, LLC and designed by PJMD Architects principal Marko Dasigenis, the next-generation professional building will soon be fully operational as a leading institute for specialty surgery.
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