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Louis Kahn / Kimbell Art Museum

I’ve just returned from Dallas, Texas and visited the Kimbell Art Museum by Louis Kahn. I’ve always admired Kahn’s work and studied the building in architecture school, but visiting the museum in person took my admiration to a whole new level after seeing the details of this incredible building designed in 1972.


Exterior view of vaults

Kahn designed the museum with the idea of creating a space that evoked “the luminosity of silver” and that was certainly what I felt on this cloudy day looking at the Impression show currently on view.


Central vault with museum shop at right

Maillol’s “L’ Air” cast bronze 1967, designed 1938 in the courtyard

The concrete, unfilled travertine and stainless steel used in the construction of the museum further expand on this vision and come together beautifully.


Concrete vault and stainless steel lighting diffuser detail

Stainless steel and mesh lighting diffuser

Exterior concrete detail

Unfilled travertine

The craftsmanship of the interior and exterior create galleries that are illuminated in a soft but effective way with no glare from the natural light that comes in through slits in the tops of the vaults and washes the concrete ceiling. Gently curved stainless steel and mesh panels with concealed lighting further enhance this silvery light quality throughout the galleries.

One of the details that I found most intriguing was the stainless steel handrail which is made from one piece of formed stainless steel and felt so incredible to my hand. The light that reflects on the shiny surface of the handrail travels all the way from the upper to the lower levels, truly inspiring!


Double vault view with handrail in foreground

Renzo Piano, who worked in Kahn’s office has been chosen to design a new building extenision scheduled for completion in 2013. The building will also utilize concrete and stainless steel as the primary construction materials. I highly recommend a trip to the Kimbell Museum of Art and The Modern Museum of Art by Tadao Ando across the street and will write further about it in my next post.

8 comments on “Louis Kahn / Kimbell Art Museum

  1. Len Small on said:

    I love these photos. You really show how the art works in Kahn’s space.

    • thegildedowl on said:

      Thanks Len!  It was an inspiring day seeing the Kimbell and the Modern Art Museum by Ando and I will post those images soon.  Cheers!

  2. Meredith Starr Ericksen on said:

    Andy – great photos…it is an amazing place. After graduating from Auburn (and getting married!)…Lee and I were stationed in Oklahoma and  spent many weekends in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I absolutely loved going to The Kimbell (after many hours of studying Kahn)…this post brought back many good memories! Cheers. Meredith

    • thegildedowl on said:

      Thanks Meredith!  I really loved it and glad you’ve experienced it first hand as well.  Hope you and your family are well.  Very best, Andy

      • Meredith Starr Ericksen on said:

        Interesting to hear that Renzo Piano is doing the extension at The Kimbell.  A few months ago I saw the extension to The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum that he designed…I really enjoyed some of the new spaces.

  3. Ina Schell on said:

    Andy,
    Your photos capture the exquisite details of Kahn’s architecture  and the awe you feel as you walk through one of his buildings.  I love everything you have posted on your blog, I want several of the
    Chiavari chairs, a trip to Italy and Fort Worth.

    • Andy Goldsborough on said:

      So glad you liked it Ina!  It was a such a beautiful museum to see in person and I had a fantastic time taking pictures since everywhere you look is another incredible detail.  Hoping to post more this week, but thanks for keeping up with the gilded owl!  xx

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