Monday, February 17, 2014
Piano In The Sky With Diamonds
It's been four years in the making. When one is altering a masterpiece like Louis I. Kahn's Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, one treads both lightly and heavily: lightly when touching the harmony of the existing building ("Better to build three or four masterpieces than three or four hundred buildings," said legendary architect I.M. Pei of his peer Kahn) and heavily in the gravitas required when creating the new dynamic.
I was stunned in the mid nineties when I visited the Kimbell and was forced to walk through the administration hallways to view its permanent collection. But, oh, what a collection! So I was not surprised when I saw a proposal for expanding the building - which was swiftly shot down from around the art world. No touching of Kahn's original vision was to be allowed.
Several years later came a new proposal. A new, original design as a complement, to create a dialogue between old and new. Thus was born the Piano Pavilion, 65 yards west of the Kahn building. Named for its architect Renzo Piano, it's a lighter, more breezy and translucent affair than the seemingly bottomless wells of depth of Kahn's design. Like a film sequel, Piano seemed to realize his work would rest on the Kimbell's already laid foundation and that without said foundation would lose much of its meaning.
These photos are from 2011:
Although much of what was built was underground - including a new parking garage - it is the sky I see emphasized in the Pavilion's profile. It's entrance faces the Kimbell's entrance while the rear part of the building is integrated into sloping hills with cutouts peeking out both north and south. Most won't make this connection but it reminds me of the dugout homes of the pioneers built on the flat plains of the Texas panhandle. It was a somewhat cloudy day when I came to visit and that seemed to suit the Pavilion just fine.
The inside carries the same theme of using natural light to display artwork as the Kimbell. A few technological innovations have been added, though, to give more control over how the light is let in.
Through the passageway and down the stairs is a stunning theater for which I will find the flimsiest of an excuse to experience firsthand. One senses the quality of design in every aspect and that the cursory glance I took barely scratches the surface.
But I also wanted to see her at night, wondering how she might blossom without the lovely blue sky.
And blossom she did. The Kimbell/Piano dialogue becomes a playground at night. Again, my cursory visit seemed much too short and I felt like spending night after night here as if I were in one of the Kimbell's own paintings. I plan to explore this new harmonic and savor the new dynamic here in the exploding museum district of Fort Worth, one of the most vibrant spots in the metroplex if not the state.
Click here to view the entire photo set