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Story - Cy Twombly Pavilion
Houston, U.S.A, 1992/1995
In 1992, Dominique de Menil turned to Renzo Piano once to build a small museum next to the Menil Collection: a permanent one-thousand square metre exhibit dedicated to the works of Cy Twombly. The new gallery is located between the buildings of the Village Museum, but despite its proximity to the Menil Collection the two buildings are quite different. While the Menil Collection museum is conceptually a unique and flexible space that can be outfitted in different manners, the Cy Twombly pavilion has been tailor-made for a specific artist and his works: the structure is thus more rigorous and well-defined. Unlike the museum, which hosts a variety of services, the new building only contains showrooms. The project was developed in collaboration with the artist himself, who was repeatedly called upon to express his preferences regarding various design alternatives. This project has the appearance of a simple independent pavilion, in which the exhibition galleries occupy a square container. The rooms are designed based on a 3 x 3 foot mesh construction, replicated three times on each side. Each box is an independent gallery. All of the galleries, with the exception of that in the centre, are lit from the ceiling, but make use of a different system than the Menil Collection.
An external canopy made of elements that filter the light crowns the building and provides shade for the tilted four-layer glass roof. The roof was conceived as a series of overlapping layers that filter the light. The uppermost layer is made of metallic mesh, while the lowermost, which is visible just above the exhibition space, is made of fabric. These two layers are separated by a grid of solar deflectors and a glass surface with fixed skylights. Once again, all of the deflectors’ opening, closing and adjustment systems are controlled electronically in order to constantly ensure optimal lighting conditions. The central room, which only houses a single large painting, is set in a higher position with respect to the surrounding galleries and is only illuminated by artificial lighting. As the Twombly gallery hosts a permanent exhibit, the exhibit itself is much more subject to light damage. For this reason, the lighting levels are kept low and constant: 300 lux (compared to the 1000 lux of the Menil Collection, for example). The natural wood flooring also reflects additional light, thus contributing to the gallery’s diffused lighting. The pavilion’s walls are made of cement blocks, with internal cement pillars to support the roof structure.
Fondazione Renzo Piano Via Pier Paolo Rubens 30a 16158 Genova Italia CF95086900107 P.IVA 02089770990