The customer was the Texas branch of the Asia Society, which promotes oriental art and culture. The new building will combine several functions: a museum, an educational center, a restaurant and a venue for social events.
Asia House will be Taniguchi's first free-standing building in the United States and second after his new building for the Museum of Modern Art - MoMA - in New York, which opened in 2004.
Although it is a public building, the architect admitted that he wanted to give it the scale and appearance of a residential building. It is a low, wide two-storey building that fits into the environment of modest-sized villas and museum buildings. Inside, the three main zones of the House of Asia - the assembly hall, meeting rooms and the exhibition gallery - are arranged around a glazed lobby that can be used as a meeting place.
To avoid the unnecessary massiveness of the building, Taniguchi placed some rooms and part of the auditorium for 300 seats in the semi-basement.
A glossy aluminum panel extending over the eaves hides the overlapping ceilings of the art gallery, where higher ceilings were needed. There will be exhibits from the collection of Asian art by John D. Rockefeller 3rd.
The main entrance will be flanked by two long walls that will serve as a fence for the garden in front of the main façade. In total, 5 small gardens will be laid out around (the most original - a water garden on the second floor, overlooking the center of Houston), and almost every room of the "House of Asia" will open a view of the surrounding greenery.