Cambridge Architectural Curtains Foster Sense of Openness for Central Gallery at Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University

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Curtains protect gallery space while promoting interior visibility.

Cambridge Architectural Metal Mesh Curtain at Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University

"Our architectural curtains create a high degree of visibility within interior landscapes and are an attractive design alternative to enclosing spaces with walls and solid partitions." -- David Zeitlin, Cambridge Architectural Sales Director

Two custom-designed interior curtains of metal mesh fabric woven by Cambridge Architectural border the Central Gallery at the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University. The new home for creativity on Rice’s Houston campus opened in February 2017 and is dedicated to interdisciplinary collaboration through the arts.

Working with Michael Maltzan Architecture in Los Angeles, Cambridge wove two curtains of flexible metal fabric to provide an open yet protective partition for the Central Gallery. The space hosts experimental artwork exhibitions and has a sprung wood floor for dance and social events.

The mesh in Cambridge’s Mid Balance metal fabric pattern has 50 percent open area to meet the design intent of the architect and affirm the Moody Center’s mission to foster connections between artistic disciplines.

According to Michael Maltzan, design principal, the Moody Center’s interior space creates a sense of openness and possibility. Sightlines transact through spaces creating layered views of the myriad activities playing across the Central Gallery, other exhibition areas and the building’s production and instructional spaces.

“So much of what I was trying to do in this building was to not design a specific stand-alone space,” Maltzan said, “but to make spaces that would feel very connected to each other where you would get a view of something you wouldn’t normally get a view of.”

Because the curtains must also serve as a protective barrier for rotating art exhibitions, engineers at Cambridge Architectural designed a system that attaches the flexible metal fabric to hooks at the top and bottom so they can roll smoothly along a track.

The mesh is hung sideways so it can pivot at the rods, which allows the curtains to collapse and fold at the push of a button. When fully extended, they can be locked to enclose the artwork on display.

"The project team recognized the additional security and durability that Cambridge's Mid Balance weave provides over other metal curtain options, which is something we stress for this type of application,” said David Zeitlin, Cambridge Architectural Sales Director.

The Moody Center fabric is the latest interior curtain created by Cambridge for an academic institution. Other curtain projects have been completed for Old Dominion University, Pingree School, Regis College and the University of Baltimore,

“Our architectural curtains create a high degree of visibility within interior landscapes and are an attractive design alternative to enclosing spaces with walls and solid partitions,” Zeitlin said. “We are thrilled to have our craftsmanship on display at a prestigious university like Rice and in this state-of-the art facility that promotes collaboration between the arts, sciences and humanities.”

The $30 million, 50,000 square-foot Moody Center fills the following roles on the Rice campus: an experimental platform for creating and presenting works in all disciplines; a flexible teaching space to encourage new models of learning; and a forum for creative partnerships with visiting national and international artists.

“Moody is where art exhibition and education intersects and fosters collaborations across multiple disciplines and across Houston, the state and the nation,” said Ross Moody, Moody Foundation Chairman, at the building’s dedication.

Project Specifications

Building: Moody Center for the Arts, Central Gallery
Location: Rice University, Houston
Completion: February 2017
Architect: Michael Maltzan Architectural, Los Angeles
General Contractor: Linbeck Construction, Houston
Cambridge Metal Mesh Pattern: Mid Balance
Cambridge Attachment System: Custom Curtain Hardware
Measurements: Two curtains: 45.8 x 11.5 feet; 25.4 x 11.5

About Cambridge Architectural
Cambridge Architectural, a Rexnord brand, is the most experienced full-service provider of sustainable architectural mesh systems for interior and exterior building applications. As the world leader in tensioned mesh systems, Cambridge metal fabric solutions lend unique aesthetic appeal, functionality, affordability and sustainable benefits to a variety of structures interior and exterior. Cambridge Architectural offers full system design, engineering and collaboration from concept through installation. Cambridge’s metal fabric systems are categorized by the primary applications they serve, including parking structures, exterior shades, facades, canopies, curtains and others. As a member of the United States Green Building Council, Cambridge is committed to promoting methods, technology and products resulting in environmentally responsible and healthy buildings. Visit for more information.

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Brent Burkhardt
since: 01/2010
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