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NY Review Of Books Gives Resounding, ‘Meh, Not So Bad,’ To Piano Pavilion

by Jerome Weeks 12 Dec 2013 9:57 AM

Architecture critic Martin Filler weighs in, and can’t help looking longingly at Louis Kahn’s Kimbell – and Piano’s own Nasher Sculpture Center.


piano gallery2Photo by Jerome Weeks.
Architecture critic Martin Filler, author of Makers of Modern Architecture, weighs in on Renzo Piano’s new addition to the Kimbell Museum. Filler’s response fits the generally-positive-but-decidedly mixed reviews that have appeared elsewhere. (Here’s mine). His take on the building is conveniently summed up in his opening lines:

The good news is that the Renzo Piano Pavilion, its eponymous architect’s long-awaited addition to Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum of 1966–1972 in Fort Worth, is far from the disaster feared by many admirers of the most revered twentieth-century gallery. There is no bad news, only mild regret that the new $135 million building is not very distinguished, especially in light of what I believe to be Piano’s masterpiece, only thirty-two miles away in Dallas, his Nasher Sculpture Center of 1999–2003.

Filler goes on to praise the pavilion’s silvery concrete walls (“the most ravishing concrete I have seen in the US”), dismisses the “rather perfunctory” landscape design and believes Kahn’s original building does a better job of showcasing most artworks. He concludes the Piano Pavilion will sit resolutely in the middle ranks of the architect’s work. For all of his praise for the Nasher (“More than ever before, the Nasher struck me during a recent visit as its designer’s equivalent of Kahn’s Kimbell, a warm and embracing fusion of art and architecture that seems increasingly remarkable each time I see it”), Filler makes no mention of the ongoing endangerment by/dispute with the nearby Museum Tower.