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Kimbell to Build Long-Awaited Annex, Designed by Piano

This welcome announcement is many years in the making: The Kimbell Museum, Fort Worth, is finally set to expand. Since tacking on an extension to Louis Kahn‘s celebrated masterpiece was unthinkable, the museum had acquired in 1998 a site across the street (next to the Tadao Ando-designed Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth) for a new building.
The annex to be designed by Renzo Piano (who else?) will resolve the Kimbell’s chief difficulty, which director Timothy Potts had discussed when I interviewed him at the Kimbell a few years ago, and which he reiterated in today’s press release:
The Kimbell has long struggled with the problem of having to relegate most of its permanent collection to storage when presenting major visiting exhibitions.
Considering the extraordinary quality of the Kimbell’s select collection, depriving visitors of the chance to see it for long stretches, repeatedly, was almost unpardonable.
Few details have been provided so far, but now I understand why Mindy Riesenberg, head of public relations, mysteriously told me that she would have lots to tell me when she sees me in New York next week.
The press release is not up on the Kimbell’s website yet, but you can see it by clicking the link below.


KIMBELL ART FOUNDATION SELECTS ARCHITECT FOR NEW BUILDING
FORT WORTH–The Kimbell Art Foundation announced today that the Renzo Piano Building Workshop has been selected as the architect for the addition to the internationally renowned Kimbell Art Museum. Renzo Piano is the winner of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, the Gold Medal from Britain and Italy, and many other awards for buildings known for their sensitivity to site and surroundings, quality of lightness, and poetic use of contemporary forms and materials. The addition will comprise a separate building located across the street from the current Museum, on land acquired in 1998.
In making the announcement, Kay Fortson, president of the Kimbell Art Foundation said: “I am thrilled that Renzo Piano has agreed to design our new building, which will represent the most significant enhancement to the Kimbell since its opening in 1972. The Louis Kahn building has become one of the icons of modern architecture, and I have every confidence that Mr. Piano will create a companion piece that complements and reinforces Kahn’s great achievement.”
Mr. Piano seemed predestined to design the expansion of the Kimbell Museum, having worked as a young architect in the office of Louis I. Kahn in Philadelphia.
“No architect could refuse such a commission,” Mr. Piano said in his workshop in Genoa last month. “It is an awesome challenge, but an attractive one, to join hands over time with the master architect who created the Kimbell. It is all the more satisfying as an undertaking, given my association with Lou Kahn and my deep respect for him and his work.”
Dr. Timothy Potts, director of the Kimbell Art Museum, commented: “The Kimbell has long struggled with the problem of having to relegate most of its permanent collection to storage when presenting major visiting exhibitions. With this new building we will be able to keep the Kimbell’s renowned collections fully accessible year-round, while also presenting a varied program of international exhibitions. Renzo Piano has created some of the most beautiful gallery spaces of our time and will no doubt bring to the Kimbell project his signature sensitivity to materials, natural light, and proportion in creating spaces that allow great works of art to scintillate.”
Mr. Piano brings impressive credentials and honors to this important undertaking. Among his many projects probably none is better known than the Centre Georges Pompidou, a museum in Paris known popularly as the Beaubourg, which he designed with Richard Rogers. Since then he has designed a wide variety of building types that include a shopping center, bridge, soccer stadium, airport, a major church in Rome, factories, housing, high-rise buildings, even a cruise ship. Among this prolific outpouring of exceptional works he is most identified with museums. In Europe he is known for the Beyeler Museum in Basel and the newly opened Klee Museum in nearby Bern; and in the U.S., for the expansions of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, as well as the newly enlarged Morgan Library & Museum in New York and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. He has favored Texas with several museum projects of distinction over the years including the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas and the much-praised Menil Collection in Houston, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, and where another of Piano’s works, the Cy Twombly Gallery, is also located.
Biography of Renzo Piano
Renzo Piano was born in Genoa (Italy) on September 14, 1937. He graduated in 1964 from the School of Architecture of the Milan Polytechnic. As a student he worked under the design guidance of Franco Albini, while also regularly attending his father’s building sites, where he got valuable practical experience. Between 1965 and 1970, he completed his training, work experiments, and study travels in Britain and America. At that time he worked in the office of Louis I. Kahn and met Jean Prouvé, whose friendship had a deep influence on his professional life.
In 1971, he founded the “Piano & Rogers” agency with Richard Rogers, his partner on the Centre Pompidou project in Paris. In 1977, he founded the “Atelier Piano & Rice” along with the engineer Peter Rice, a professional of great stature who worked with him on many projects until his death in 1993. He founded Renzo Piano Building Workshop in 1993 with offices in Paris and Genoa. Some 100 people work with him including architects, engineers, and building specialists. He is also involved in close collaboration with many associated architects, linked to him by years of experience.
Kimbell Art Museum
The Kimbell Art Museum, owned and operated by the Kimbell Art Foundation, has become a byword for quality and importance at the highest level. Its collections range in period from antiquity to the 20th century, including European masterpieces from Fra Angelico and Caravaggio to Cézanne and Matisse, and important collections of Egyptian, Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman antiquities, as well as Asian, Mesoamerican, and African arts. The Museum possesses a core of works that not only epitomize their eras and styles, but also touch individual high points of aesthetic beauty and historical importance that assure them a place among the masterpieces of world art.
The Kimbell’s world-renowned building, designed by Louis Kahn, is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding architectural achievements of the modern era. It has been called ” . . . arguably the most beautiful museum in America . . . ” by Newsweek magazine.

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