A Study in Contrast: Renzo Piano’s “Conversation” with the Kimbell and His Creation of a New Cultural Center in Athens

Victoria Newhouse, architectural historian, New York

Renzo Piano’s pavilion, adjacent to the Louis I. Kahn Building on the Kimbell Art Museum campus, is his most recent contribution to what he calls his “Texas story,” which includes the Menil Collection, Houston (1987), the Menil’s Cy Twombly Gallery (1995), and the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2003). These earlier Texas museums, and many of his other buildings, each incorporated novel forms, materials, and technology. 

Out of respect for the extraordinary masterpiece by Kahn he was to complement, Piano limited experimentation on the Kimbell pavilion. On the other hand, he had a free hand for innovation at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, Greece, completed in 2016, about which Newhouse published a book two years ago. This talk will address the differences between these two projects as well as some aspects of the architect's other art museums around the world.  

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