Thursday, April 05, 2007

Renzo Piano Chosen for Kimbell Annex

The great Italian architect Renzo Piano will be designing the annex to the Kimbell Art Museum, the museum annouced yesterday.

It's a rough neighborhood for an architect. Sure, he's the 1998 Pritzker Prize winner, but the museum district already has a couple of those with 1979 winner Philip Johnson's Amon Carter Museum across the lawn and 1995 winner Tadao Ando's Modern Art Museum across the street. Not to mention that the annex will need to compliment Louis Kahn's design. Piano worked with Kahn from 1965 to 1970.

Sez the Startlegram:

But Piano will likely be seen as a safe choice for anyone who is worried about the new building detracting from or competing with the late Kahn's design. Piano worked in Kahn's Philadelphia offices in the late 1960s and was as close as anyone to Kahn's thinking and working methods. Since then, he has shown a special affinity for designing museums with great sensitivity to their location and special lighting needs.

"It's an awesome challenge, but an attractive one," Piano said in a prepared statement. "It is all the more satisfying as an undertaking given my association with Lou Kahn and my deep respect for his work."

Piano is well known for his museum designs: the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Beyeler Foundation museum in Basel, Switzerland, a museum dedicated to Swiss painter Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland, as well as Dallas' Nasher Sculpture Center and Atlanta's High Museum of Art.

I'm familiar with Piano's two other Texas works -- the Menil and the Nasher -- from personal experience, so one thing to expect from the Kimbell annex is exquisite quality of light. I'm excited to see the design and proud that Cowtown will bring the work of another world-class architect to the museum district.

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