Leading Off: The Renzo Piano Edition

1. The New York Times reviews Renzo Piano’s plans for a new wing of the Kimbell museum, which will be officially unveiled today:

It’s true that Mr. Piano’s design is not as transcendent a work of architecture as the original Kimbell. Nor does it quite live up to his own masterpiece, the 1987 Menil Collection building in Houston. But Mr. Piano has managed to find that magical and elusive balance between respecting a great work and adhering to one’s own aesthetic convictions.

2. Scott Cantrell reports on the extension in the Dallas Morning News, quoting Piano:

“It’s one of the best buildings in the world,” Piano says of the Kimbell, “and the very best building by Kahn. We’re just completing things that are missing.”

3. Jerome Weeks has story for KERA this morning, noting that the Kimbell expansion will be the third of Piano’s museum projects in Texas, adding to the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Menil Collection. Traces of those museums, Weeks says, can be found in the new Kimbell building, as well as references to Kahn, for whom Piano worked early in his career.

To anyone familiar with Piano’s other museums, the facade and the general floorplan of the Kimbell annex recall both Piano’s Nasher and Menil designs. The architect says the inspiration of Kahn’s original building runs through all of his Texas museums. The airy galleries, the sense of scale, the use of concrete and natural sunlight.

4. And on the Chicago Tribune‘s architecture blog, Blair Kamin writes that:

It is impossible to judge the plan from afar, but it seems to have one big plus: It will bring museum patrons into what Kahn always intended to be the main entrance for his building. (Currently, visitors typically park to the east of the Kimbell and enter through what is actually its back entrance.) Architecturally, the design’s success may well hinge on Piano’s ability to endow his aboveground pavilion with what he calls “robust walls of concrete.” The drawings provided in a press kit do not indicate how he plans to do that.

You can browse through images of the new building plans on the Kimbell’s website.

(Image courtesy of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop)

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