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Renzo Piano’s New Pavilion for the Kimbell Art Museum

Renzo Piano’s New Pavilion for the Kimbell Art Museum

A masterpiece of 20th-century architecture just got a new neighbor. The stark concrete-and-travertine forms of Fort Worth’s 1972 Kimbell Art Museum—designed by Louis Kahn and famous for skylit vaults that diffuse the silvery Texas light—has been joined by a Renzo Piano annex. The addition, constructed of silky, pale concrete and whitewashed wood—and respectfully distanced from the original building by a grove of elms and red oaks—also uses sunlight to great effect, filtering it through a diaphanous glass roof shaded by computer-controlled louvers. “The light seems ethereal. You can almost feel it,” says Eric M. Lee, the museum’s director. The building will house temporary exhibitions as well as the Kimbell’s pre-Columbian, African, and Asian art, freeing up space in the main building for European painting and sculpture. And how does the Piano pavilion compare with its iconic predecessor? “It’s like looking at a Titian and a Rubens,” Lee says. “They come from the same tradition, though they each have their own definite style. You’d never mistake one for the other.”

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