Building a new museum is like making a movie with a big cast of characters. There's the architect as director, the board of trustees (the producers), the curators with a story to tell in the galleries (the screenwriters), and a horde of technical consultants. Looming in the background is the reality of the budget'if value engineering is too severe, it's like canceling an Alpine location to shoot on a soundstage with fake snow. And just as Hollywood rushes to release movies before the end of the year'to be eligible for the Oscars'museum construction tends to finish with a frantic sprint to an opening-night gala.
In the waning days of last year, two high-profile American museums hurried to completion: the addition to Louis Kahn's 1972 Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and the P'rez Art Museum Miami, by Herzog & de Meuron. Both are glass pavilions with a disarming outward simplicity; both were designed to modestly defer to the art and the public they will serve; and both'in vastly different ways'create a sense of place.