Here we publish an excerpt from the article of the colleague Priji Balakrishnan, titled:


If there is one building that I can write about without having visited it in person, it would be the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. My appreciation of the building — its aesthetics, its proportions and above all its emanating light — has only grown with time.

The Kimbell Art Museum is a creation by Louis Kahn, located in Texas. I first encountered it when I analysed the daylight it captures and transforms, as part of a coursework in University. To give a bit of context, I will quote the words of Wendy Lesser describing both the daylight experienced in Texas as well as its composition within the museum.

“Somehow the harsh Texas sunlight which prevails outdoors has been converted into a cool, silver-tinted beam that bathes the concrete and the paintings and the people who stand in front of them, making everything seem as if it exactly belongs here.”

 — Wendy Lesser in the book: You Say to the Brick

Interior of the Kimbell Art Museum. Photo by Michael Barera

The effect of bringing daylight from the outside and changing the nature of its perception is the power of architecture, perhaps best embodied in the works of Kahn who wrote on the subject:

“The sun never knew how great it was until it hit the side of a building.”

The vault ceilings of the Kimbell Art Museum, often described as “pearly gray”, “moonlit” and, in the words of Kahn himself, “a touch of silver to the room”, are the result of three specific design strategies — the geometry, the material, and the opening through which the light is brought in. But how Kahn prepares the visitors to enter the ‘silent light’ of the museum from the harsh Texas sun outside, by means of a transition, is instrumental to appreciate its effect.

Daylight analysis of the interior of Kimbell Museum for Texas