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Renzo Piano’s New Pavilion for the Kimbell Art Museum

Renzo Piano Pavilion

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.”

Photo by Robert Polidori, courtesy of Kimbell Art Museum

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