Another Elaborate Roof: Video Previews of Renzo Piano’s Pavilion for Kimbell Art Museum

UPDATE: My Wall Street Journal review of the Kimbell’s Piano Pavilion is here.

Wanna see a video preview of the new Renzo Piano addition to the Kimbell Art Museum, opening to the public on Nov. 27? Now your can!

This tour of the exterior, posted by KERA, the public broadcasting outlet for North Texas, is narrated by Eric Lee, the Kimbell’s director. You’ll hear him state that the Piano Pavilion “walks a very fine line between being deferential to the Kahn building and being a strong building in and of itself”:

Here’s an animated video rendering of what the interior may look like:

The Kimbell’s new Visitors Guide provides more details on the Piano addition, which boasts “soft, light gray concrete unlike any concrete ever produced in the United States,” not to mention “one of Piano’s most elaborately engineered roof systems” [emphasis added].

That’s a very high bar. As I mentioned in my Wall Street Journal review of the architect’s Broad Contemporary Art Museum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “BCAM’s saw-tooth roof features another of Piano’s elaborate skylight apparatuses (reminiscent of his recent addition to Atlanta’s High Museum), which have come to seem more fussy and pricey than necessary.” In my WSJ review of Piano’s Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago, I questioned the functionality of another of Piano’s complicated roofs, which left the art “unflatteringly muted by insufficient illumination” when I visited on opening day.

The Kimbell’s original Louis Kahn building is widely celebrated for its architectural eminence and, particularly, for the quality of light in its galleries. So it will be interesting to learn how well the Piano Pavilion’s design and its manipulation of illumination rise to this occasion.

Renzo Piano’s back-of-a-placecard drawing of his plan for the Kimbell, given to me at the 2010 press preview of his Modern Wing in Chicago
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum