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Design of Renzo Piano Pavilion-Kimbell Art Museum

Renzo Piano Pavilion- an addition to Kimbell Art Museum

“Close enough for a conversation, not too close and not too far away,” said architect Renzo Piano, of the distance from the Kimbell’s new Renzo Piano Pavilion to the Louis Kahn Building.
“Close enough for a conversation, not too close and not too far away,” said architect Renzo Piano, of the distance from the Kimbell’s new Renzo Piano Pavilion to the Louis Kahn Building.
Kimbell Art Museum
South facade Renzo Piano Pavilion Fort Worth Kimbell Art Museum.
Architect Magazine- LaPrelle

When one visits the Fort Worth Kimbell Art Museum web site (from which research was collected for this article) and searches for the Renzo Piano addition they are immediately drawn to the design architects own words about Renzo Pavillion:

“Close enough for a conversation, not too close and not too far away,” remarked architect Renzo Piano, when describing the distance from the Kimbell’s new Renzo Piano Pavilion to the Louis Kahn Building. Piano’s structure, made of glass, concrete, and wood and surrounded by elms and red oaks, stands as an expression of simplicity and lightness some 65 yards to the west of Kahn’s vaulted, luminous museum landmark of 1972.

The Building-Renzo Piano Pavilion at the Fort Worth Kimbell Art Museum

Deference to original Kahn design

The Renzo Piano design of a low-slung, colonnaded pavilion with overhanging roof eaves courteously concedes Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum building as indicated by its corresponding height, stress on natural light, and use of concrete as a main building material. The placing of the pavilion location on the site centers attention on the west facade of the Kahn Building, which the old master Kahn considered in his design to be the main Fort Worth residents and other public visitors’ arrival point for the timeless museum.

Two sections connected by glass

The pavilion consists of two sections joined by a glass passageway with the front, or easternmost, section delivering an impression of weightlessness: a glass roof system appears to float high overhead the wooden beams and concrete post supports. Sleek, square concrete columns line the central, sunken glass entrance and cloak around three sides of the structure. The three-way facade enunciates the interior, with a roomy entrance lobby and large art galleries to the north and south.

Light-sensitive, educational, and gathering spaces

Slipped under a green roof, the Piano Pavilion’s western segment holds a gallery for light-sensitive works of art, three education studios, a voluminous library and reading areas, and an auditorium, located below ground level, is an acoustic music design focus: its sloped seating faces the stage and the “dramatic backdrop of a light well animated by shifting patterns of natural light.”

The Design Architect- Renzo Piano

Born into a clan of builders in the Italian port city of Genoa in 1937, Piano carries amazing credentials and museum design experience to the Kimbell. Much of this experience is described in the Renzo Piano Pavillion Fort Worth Kimbell Art Museum website.

The Renzo Piano Building Workshop, established in 1981, has received a steady stream of museum commissions, including two other much-loved spaces in Texas: the Cy Twombly Gallery, also commissioned by the Menil Collection and located on its campus, and the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. Piano also designed what is often credited as being one of the most perfect small museums in the world, the Fondation Beyeler outside Basel, Switzerland.

Watch the video for information on another famous building design by Renzo Piano.

Design Workshop Sketches

The Kimbell Museums’ website also features several of the Renzo Piano workshop design sketches, many of which are shown in the slide show along with this article. Be sure and view the show and the video which features a nice home design and built near San Antonio that was influenced by the Fort Worth Kimbell Art Museum.

For more information, see Kimbell.