From Tut Bartzen on his recent trip to the Kimbell Museum
I have attached a few pictures that I took, as part of a school project, of the Kimbell Museum. The assignment was to document, as best we could, the “essence” of what made your favorite building an exceptional work of architecture. I’m not sure that I could define the “essence” of the building at that point, but I knew it had something to do with order. So, I superimposed each detail image over the concrete grid at the base of the building.
I recently had a chance to visit my hometown of Ft. Worth, Texas. While there, I made another visit to the Kimbell. This Kimbell is a very special place to me. I realized that when I lived in Texas, I may have taken this building for granted. I could go and spend time there anytime I wanted, and I did, but I noticed that the passage of time has had an interesting effect on my perception of the building, and its place among other buildings that I admire. It could be simply, that after practicing architecture for nearly 30 years, I can now more fully realize what an accomplishment this building really is.
Most great buildings have subtle indications of the cultural time frames in which they are built, and some buildings seem to be deliberately counter to the cultural time frames in which they exist. To me, one of the strengths of the Kimbell is that it somehow manages to exist outside of this frame of reference. The Kimbell seems to occupy a unique place which is primitive and advanced, ancient and modern.
Someone once remarked to me that it is interesting to approach a design anticipating what the building will become as a ruin. In other words, after it is been reduced to its barest essence, will it still convey its sense of place or purpose? It is interesting to think about Kahn’s greatest achievement in these terms, as it surely will.