Expansion at the Kimbell Art Museum

By Eric Nelson, Trinity Industries, Inc.

The newly opened Renzo Pavilion in the Fort Worth Arts District is an outstanding example of architecture and landscape coexisting in an urban setting. This development is successful, in part, because it solves many issues that plague downtown and urban areas including congestion, limited parking, rapid storm runoff, higher temperatures and lack of green space.Kimbell Art Museum

The green turf roof is taking shape one month prior
to the opening of the Renzo Pavilion in addition
to the environmental benefits, the space
can be used for social gatherings and musuem activities

The Renzo Pavilion, designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano, increases the collection space at the Kimbell Art museum by 80,000 square feet. Noted for its brilliant use of glass, concrete and filtered light, the museum houses galleries for the Asian, African and Pre-Columbian collections, and includes temporary exhibit space, an auditorium, education center, staff offices and a grand lobby for receptions. The architect created much of the 4-acre outdoor landscape by placing the parking underground, one rises from the parking structure below and is greeted by a tree-lined lawn area bisecting the entrances of the Kahn and Piano buildings. On the west end of the site is a “turf roof” that ramps up from street level and can be used for informal gatherings or museum functions.

Trinity Expanded Shale & Clay in Streetman, Texas manufactured the expanded shale specified for the lightweight fill and planting soil. Because expanded shale is half the weight of sand or pea gravel, it is readily adapted to projects where weight is an issue – as in deck parks, plazas, over subsurface parking garages, in green roof systems and large container plantings. The material is also porous, inert, durable, resistant to compaction, and able to absorb and release water and nutrients. Over 3’ of lightweight soils help anchor the 47 Chinese elms in the new landscape and the “turf roof” was installed over 1’ of lightweight soil.

Developments of this nature are important to urban areas because they help preserve green space. They provide spaces for people to gather, soften lines of architecture, help filter the air, reduce the heat island effect and foster community identity. Soils blended with lightweight aggregates like expanded shale have proven to reduce urban runoff while filtering harmful contaminants. “Low Impact Development” techniques using lightweight aggregates are becoming more popular with cities for bio-retention, amending heavy clay soils, detention planters, permeable turf parking and green roofs.

Photo Gallery

  • The 3 fill over the subsurface parking area included expandedshale(3/B * #10) for drainage.The same gradation was blended with sand and compost for the lightweight planting soils.)
  • The lightweight soil for the 'turfroof' averaged 1 in depth and included a blend of sand,organic material and 3/B * #10 expanded shale.A crane was used to load the super sacks onto the roof
  • The tree lined corridor naturally connect the Renzo Pavillion(left) with the original louis kahn Musuem(right) and preseves valuable open space