The element of natural light is the main focus of the design, and creates elegant spaces that are perfectly suited for the art that it houses. Save this picture! To diffuse this light, pierced-aluminum reflectors shaped like wings hang below, illuminating the smooth surfaces of the concrete vault while providing elegant and enchanting light conditions for the works of art. The building is punctuated by three courtyards, allowing for more light, air flow and relationships between interior and exterior spaces. These were made possible by the use of concrete, travertine and white oak, all the key materials of the project. Most of the galleries are located on the upper floor, to allow for most natural lighting.

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Ric Brown, who enthusiastically supported his appointment. The museum has as many moods as there are moments in time, and never… will there be a single day like the other. Louis I. Kahn Light Natural light enters through narrow plexiglass skylights along the top of cycloid barrel vaults and is diffused by wing-shaped pierced-aluminum reflectors that hang below, giving a silvery gleam to the smooth concrete of the vault surfaces and providing a perfect, subtly fluctuating illumination for the works of art.

The main west facade of the building consists of three foot bays, each fronted by an open, barrel-vaulted portico, with the central, entrance bay recessed and glazed. The porticos express on the exterior the light-filled vaulted spaces that are the defining feature of the interior, which are five deep behind each of the side porticos and three deep behind the central one.

Additionally, three courtyards punctuate the interior space. Though thoroughly modern in its lack of ornament or revivalist detail, the building suggests the grand arches and vaults of Roman architecture, a source of inspiration that Kahn himself acknowledged.

The principal materials are concrete, travertine, and white oak. Each architect has an individual approach to developing that initial concept. In the case of the Kimbell, director Richard Brown provided an initial list of important considerations for generating ideas for the structure. Kahn determined the exact shape of the vault through his collaboration with a structural engineer, Dr.

August E. As opposed to semicircular vaults, the cycloid vault has gently rising sides that give the impression of monumentality without overpowering the visitor. By mathematical definition, the cycloid is the curve traced by a point on the circumference of a circle that rolls on a straight line without slipping.

This geometric form is capable of supporting its own weight and has been likened to an eggshell for its ability to withstand heavy pressure. At the Kimbell, the weight for each vault is directed through four corner columns measuring two square feet. Additionally, Kahn and his engineers placed long steel cables inside along the length of each vault.

After the concrete had hardened for a week, hydraulic jacks were used tighten the cables to create a system of post-tensioning that distributes and supports the weight of the roof—similar to a suspension bridge.

The basic plan is composed of sixteen cycloid vaults x 20 feet that are arranged in three parallel units of six, four, and six in the Kimbell. Other elements are based on a ratio of 20 to For example, on the floor, wood sections measure 20 feet and travertine sections are 10 feet. Within the Museum, visitors see that vaults cover the galleries, an auditorium, and the Buffet Restaurant. Kahn also varied the size of the courtyards. The North courtyard is 40 square feet, while the South courtyard is 20 square feet.

The space, in fact, was designed to be as flexible as possible within the confines of the vaulted spaces. Materials To make a structure that will stand the test of time, architects choose materials that are strong and durable, as well as pleasing to the eye. Kahn preferred simple forms and natural materials. To achieve a sense of serenity and elegance in the Kimbell, Kahn selected materials that complemented each other in tone and surface: travertine, concrete, white oak, metal, and glass.

Simple and unadorned, each of these materials shows its innate character by its variation of texture. Creating the right look to the concrete was a matter of serious importance to Kahn, who went to great lengths to select the proper color soft gray with lavender tones determined by the mixture of sand and cement.

Numerous wall tests were poured and allowed to cure in the Texas sun until they found the right surface qualities and perfect match for the soft tones of the travertine. Kahn believed that buildings should tell the story of how they were made and that incidents of the construction process should be left as a visual record.

Accordingly, when they occurred, marks from plywood mold forms, bits of rubber, and air pockets remain for all to see although the workmen practiced to attain perfection. Kahn even called it wallpaper. Glass and wood are also non-weight-bearing materials in the museum. The travertine a type of colored limestone used for the Kimbell was imported from Tivoli, near Rome, Italy.

This material is riddled with irregularly shaped holes left by gases and pieces of vegetation trapped in hardened layers of calcium carbonate. Kahn was deeply influenced by monuments and ancient ruins that he studied as a student and sketched on his travels through Italy, Greece, and Egypt. In his own buildings, Kahn used such materials as travertine to emulate the timeless and monolithic qualities he so admired in those ancient structures. Fissures and openings were not filled.

Lead was selected for the roof cover for its color, dull sheen, and discreet, natural appearance. Because this soft metal ages quickly, Kahn believed that it would look consistent with the travertine and concrete.

In keeping with his palette of warm and cool tonal harmonies, Kahn also selected white oak for the gallery floors, doors, and cabinetry; anodized aluminum a light-weight metal noted for its high reflectivity that has been covered with a protective oxide coating for the soffits and reflectors; and mill-finished steel for windows and door frames, elevators, and handrails, as well as in the kitchen, conservation studio, and darkroom.


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Louis I. Kahn: The Construction of the Kimbell Art Museum (I Cataloghi 2)


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