The Kimbell Art Museum, designed by the American architect Louis I. Kahn (1901–1974), is widely regarded as one of the outstanding architectural achievements of the modern era. Completed in 1953, the building was revolutionary in terms of American museum architecture, and it gained him instant national recognition. Situated amidst collegiate Gothic structures, the museum—constructed out of brick, concrete, steel, and glass—presents a windowless facade to the street and features open interiors with flexibly partitioned galleries. A honeycomb-like tetrahedral concrete ceiling contains air ducts and light fixtures in an ingenious arrangement. Impassively modern as the building is, in its scale, materials, and solemnity it subtly references its historical neighbors.
A new building, designed by the renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, opened November 27, 2013. Its low-slung, colonnaded pavilion with overhanging eaves graciously acknowledges Louis I. Kahn’s museum landmark by way of its kindred height, emphasis on natural light, and use of concrete as a primary material.
In 1980, Piano was approached by the Schlumberger oil-equipment heiress Dominique de Menil to design a museum in Houston to house her impressive collection of art. She and her husband John had previously commissioned Louis I. Kahn, but after Mr. de Menil died in 1973, Dominique de Menil abandoned the project. When she was ready to begin again, Kahn was no longer alive: she turned to Piano for the assignment. The result is an exposed steel and wood pavilion, minimalist in form, which was immediately hailed as a new milestone in museum architecture.
Visit the Website: https://www.kimbellart.org/architecture