Friday, June 4, 2010

Paving Paradise, Redux

Unless you're a die-hard architecture aficionado, you probably won't find today's entry especially interesting or even understandable. But for those of you who treasure Fort Worth's jewel box of a museum, the Kimbell, and recognize its design as one of the the most highly-regarded in the great state of Texas, then you'll want to read on.

Without going into too much detail, trustees at the Kimbell have ordered current pop-star architect Renzo Piano, of Italy (not Italy, Texas; Italy, the country) to perpetrate an expansion annex of the original building by the late Louis Kahn on the verdant, expansive lawn which stretches luxuriously from the western porticoes of the museum's main entrance.

It's not quite the same as paving paradise to put up a parking lot, but it's similar.

Here is the
letter-to-the-editor that I sent to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram after viewing Piano's plans, which actually were modifications of earlier designs that critics - including myself - railed against as taking up even more of the lawn that his revisions do:

I suppose Renzo Piano's redesigned addition to Fort Worth's esteemed Kimbell is a step in the right direction. Now, if they'll only take a few more steps across Van Cliburn Way and build the addition where it belongs: on the empty lot east of the current masterpiece.

Why didn't original architect Louis Kahn clutter that extravagant lawn with a parking lot? Because its broad expanse speaks so forcefully against the built environment.

On beautiful weekends, the Kimbell's lawn is the gracious veranda, the brownstone's stoop, the urban plaza, only with real grass.

It's as much a part of Kahn's brilliantly orchestrated entrance sequence to the museum's western doors as the gravel walkways, low-profile fountains and trees that the trustees have let grow too tall.

In its review, The New York Times seems to have its fingers crossed as to whether Piano's design rates highly enough. That the Times is following this story shows how important Kahn's Kimbell is to the world of architecture. How unfortunate that decision-makers at the Kimbell apparently are more cavalier.

-- Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Monday, May 31, 2010

If you'd like to send the Kimbell's trustees your thoughts, please feel free to do so!

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