A detailed scale model of Renzo Piano’s design for the Kimbell Art Museum’s new west building is now on display in the Museum’s lobby. “The model is beautiful,” commented Eric M. Lee, the Museum’s director. “It will provide visitors with a clearer understanding of how the new building relates to the Kahn building and how it will be positioned in the landscape.”
The new Piano-designed building consists of two connected structures: the first, facing and echoing the west front of the Kahn building; the second, running parallel in the rear. A spacious, travertine-clad lobby containing a café, store, and coat-check occupies the center of the front pavilion, with major exhibition galleries extending to the north and south. A third gallery, as well as an auditorium, library, and education center, will be housed in the rear pavilion, which will be topped with a green roof, upon which visitors will be able to walk and enjoy recreational activities.
Along its central axis, the Piano building will be transparent, allowing views through various spaces and layers of glass, from the front entrance to the light well in the double-height, rear auditorium.
Unseen to viewers, the new building will achieve important energy savings. The floating glass roof atop the lobby pavilion supports a system of photovoltaic panels that shade direct sun, filter daylight, and generate enough power to offset up to 50% of the carbon produced by the building’s annual operations. LED lights, light-filtering window-shade systems, and a robust glazing system will also be used to control light levels. The green roof atop the rear structure reduces heating and cooling demands and insulates the interior from sounds overhead, which is of particular benefit to the auditorium within. The green roof also shelters a third gallery that is not top-lit and therefore suitable for especially light-sensitive works. Some 140 geothermal wells, dug 300 feet into the earth, regulate the climate within the building. A technique called variable air volume (VAV) controls the capacity of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, providing only the amount needed, not more. The wooden floors of the galleries, auditorium, and ground-floor offices provide a low-velocity ventilation system and an energy-efficient moisture-reclaim system that will greatly reduce the energy required to treat the air in the interior.
The model on view in the Museum’s lobby defines the Kimbell’s city block between Camp Bowie Boulevard, Van Cliburn Way, Lancaster Avenue, and Will Rogers Road as it will look upon construction completion in 2013. It was constructed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in Genoa, Italy.