Rendering of audiotorium at Kimbell expansion.
Rendering of expansion from the south.
A. Lee Graham Reporter
The Kimbell Art Museum’s anticipated $135 million expansion opens to the public on Nov. 27, 2013. Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Kendall/Heaton Associates, the expansion emphasizes glass, concrete and wood simplicity, surrounded by elm and red oak trees. Renzo Piano’s colonnaded pavilion will feature those elements and stand about 65 yards west of the original museum designed by Louis I. Kahn and opened in 1972. The expansion is similar in scale to the Kahn building. Its 300-foot-long, 22-foot-high dimensions will feature two parallel wings stretching from north to south, connected by two glass passageways. The west wing will feature a green sod roof, with the front, east wing topped by a glass, steel and wood roof system. Its top layer features louvered photovoltaic cells and will hover above the east wing’s most prominent feature: laminated wood beams that appear to float above the concrete and glass walls and which are held aloft by square concrete columns. Twenty nine pairs of wooden roof beams, weighing a collective 435 tons, span the interior and extend to the exterior as an overhanging canopy. “In its marshaling of light, materials, scale and plan, Piano’s lean post-and-beam structure will provide an enduring counterpoint to Kahn’s solid, vaulted forms,” said Kimbell director Eric M. Lee, commenting in a news release. The Kimbell’s permanent collection of European art is expected to be on view regularly in the Kahn building, with other masterworks from the collection—including examples of pre-Columbian, African and Asian art—on display in the Piano pavilion. The principle function of the new building’s southeast gallery space will be to display temporary exhibitions. “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 accommodating changing exhibitions,” Lee said. As well as the $135 million expansion project, which includes creating an underground parking garage, the Kimbell also has begun renovating the Kahn building and is pursuing a landscaping program for its campus designed to preserve as much space as possible for open lawn, ornamented with shrubs and trees. The Piano pavilion will use only half of the amount of energy required for the operation of the Kahn building. “Because only a third of the interior is above ground, the museum will see greatly reduced demands for heating and cooling,” said Renzo Piano. The Piano and Kahn museum buildings occupy a three-and-a-half-acre campus of public green space. The new landscaping is designed to extend Kahn’s vision and maximize green space to the greatest possible extent. Ensuring the cool, silken characteristics of the Piano pavilion’s architectural concrete were Dottor Group of Venice, Italy, and Reg Hough of Rhinebeck, N.Y. The concrete was poured in place by Capform of Gallatin, Texas. The wooden beam system was designed in collaboration with New York-based Guy Nordenson and Associates, serving as structural engineer; and the east curtain wall in collaboration with FRONT as facade consultants. Serving as executive architect was Kendall/Heaton Associates Inc., of Houston, with Beck Group of Dallas-Fort Worth serving as construction manager. Serving as mechanical engineers were Arup Consulting Engineers, London, and Summit Consultants, Fort Worth. Managing the project is Paratus Group of New York City. The Kimbell Art Museum, owned and operated by the Kimbell Art Foundation, showcases collections ranging in period from antiquity to the 20th century and including European masterpieces by artists such as Michelangelo, Monet and Picasso; collections of Egyptian and classical antiquities; and Asian, Mesoamerican and African art. More information is available at www.kimbellart.org.