Kimbell Art Museum addition opens today

Wednesday 27 Nov 2013

Renzo Piano's addition to Kimbell Art Museum a gesture of ‘simplicity and lightness’

Today is the day that the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas will celebrate the opening of its Renzo Piano Pavilion with a showcase of paintings by Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Boucher. Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) with Kendall/Heaton Associates, the 101,130 sq ft addition to the Kimbell Art Museum is a colonnaded pavilion of ‘simplicity and lightness’.

Eric M. Lee, Director of the Kimbell said: “With this expansion, for the first time, the Kimbell will be able to showcase the breadth of its small but extraordinary permanent collection while simultaneously presenting a diverse selection of changing exhibitions. We have filled the Piano Pavilion with our collection to celebrate its opening, but in a few months’ time we will preview the pavilion’s first temporary exhibition, Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Muller Collection.”

The pavilion is part of a mammoth $135m scheme that includes the renovation of the original Louis I. Kahn building (completed last year) and extensive landscaping by Michael Morgan Landscape Architecture with Pond & Co. The centrepiece of the development project remains the Renzo Piano Pavilion which is made up of two structures connected by two glazed passageways.

The east wing sports a recessed glass entrance sandwiched between concrete walls which define galleries to the north and south. On entering the east wing, visitors are greeted with a glass-enclosed lobby and the option to access two gallery spaces. The material palette is raw but refined, with glass, concrete and wood being used throughout. Piano’s straight wooden beams in the roof structure contrasting starkly with the curving concrete vaults of the original Kahn building.

While the west wing also houses exhibition space (primarily for light-sensitive works), it also incorporates an auditorium with vibrant red seating, the museum library and spaces for education. A green roof graces the top of the west wing and will be open to the public.

Of the green roof system, Renzo Piano explains: “Because only a third of the interior is above ground, the museum will see greatly reduced demands for heating and cooling. In this way, it is the overall design, as well as the solar technology built into the roof system, that yields important energy savings. This is the way it should be: designing for energy savings is not an ‘add on,’ but, rather, the proper way to build.”

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