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Renzo Piano

Renzo-Piano.jpgRenzo Piano. Copyright RPBW. Photo by Stefano Glodberg-Publifoto

By Jakob Harry Hybel

Italian-born Renzo Piano is one of most exceptional and iconoclastic architects from his generation. He has been involved in a series of much debated and high-profile projects including his Centre Pompidou in Paris and most recently The Shard in London. Piano is known for his distinct high-tech aesthetic and ceaseless exploration of structural complexity.

Born in 1937, into a family of builders and contractors, Piano's fascination with the interrelationship between the structural components of a construction was sparked from an early age. He graduated in 1964 from the School of Architecture at the technical university, Politecnico di Milano, where he subsequently taught for a period of time.

After working with Louis Kahn for a couple of years, Piano joined forces with British architect Richard Rogers in 1971 and designed what was to be a career-defining project for both of them, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The project was vigorously discussed at the time of its construction due to its radical design strategy of exposing all technical functions on the outside. The public opinion has shifted since then, however, and today it is celebrated for its boldness and widely regarded as one of the city's most preeminent contemporary landmarks.

When Rogers left to set up his own practice in 1977, Piano continued to work with engineer and longtime collaborator Peter Rice, until he founded the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in 1981. The practice started small but now it employs 150 people in offices across the world in Paris, New York City as well as his hometown of Genoa, Italy.

Piano was never one to shy away from controversy and in 1991, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he was at the center of yet another polemic debate, this time on account of his masterplan for the new Potzdamer Platz in Berlin. The project was considered by critics as an expression of blatant Americanization and was severely criticized for its lack of regard to the history of the site.

Piano's recent projects include the expansion of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Modern Wing and Europe's tallest skyscraper, The Shard in London.

Over the course of his career, Piano has received numerous decorations, among others the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture from RIBA in 1989, The Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1998, the Médaille d'Or from the UIA in 2002, and the Gold Medal from the AIA in 2008.


Visit the official website of Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

The Shard by Renzo Piano in London, United Kingdom. Exterior peak view.
Photo © Michel Denancé
August 27, 2012 /

The Shard
Renzo Piano
London, United Kingdom

London Bridge Tower, which is also known as the Shard, is a 72 storey mixed use tower located besides London Bridge Station on the south bank of the river Thames.

Resnick Pavilion LACMA exterior 
Photo © Nic Lehoux
October 11, 2010 /

Resnick Pavilion LACMA
Renzo Piano
Los Angeles, California, USA

The Resnick Exhibition Pavilion, the cornerstone of Phase II of LACMA's Transformation, complements BCAM architecturally.

La Rocca winery exterior 
Photo © Michel Denancé
September 07, 2009 /

La Rocca Winery
Renzo Piano
Gavorrano (Grosseto), Italy

Sited on a hill surrounded by vineyards and woods, La Rocca Winery revisits the traditional forms of Tuscan architecture within a modern, industrially inspired frame.

The Modern Wing The Art Institute of Chicago exterior facade
Photo: Charles G. Young, Interactive design architects, © RPBW
June 29, 2009 /

The Modern Wing
Renzo Piano
Chicago, Illinois, USA

With its serene limestone, glass facade and innovative sun-screen canopy, that floats over the roof like a flying carpet, the Modern Wing already has a significant presence in a city defined by its rich architectural heritage.

SNFCC by Renzo Piano in Athens, Greece. 
Drawing courtesy RPBW
February 09, 2009 /

SNFCC
Renzo Piano
Athens, Greece

The concept design for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), housing the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera, both set within the Stavros Niarchos Park, was recently revealed.

California Academy of Sciences California Academy of Sciences exterior by Renzo Piano in San Francisco, California, USA. Landscape. Aerial view.
Photo © Tim Griffith
September 22, 2008 /

California Academy of Sciences
Renzo Piano
San Francisco, California, USA

The new California Academy of Sciences houses the Kimball Natural History Museum, Steinhart Aquarium and Morrison Planetarium, along with eight scientific research departments and over 20 million scientific specimens.

BCAM by Renzo Piano in Los Angeles, California, USA. Exterior.
Photo: arcspace
May 12, 2008 /

BCAM
Renzo Piano
Los Angeles, California, USA

The new BCAM, the centerpiece of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), is designed specifically for the display of contemporary art.

The Morgan Library by Renzo Piano in New York, New York, USA. Interior.
Photo: Michel Denancé.
October 02, 2006 /

The Morgan Library
Renzo Piano
New York, New York, USA

The Morgan was founded by Pierpont Morgan in 1906 and made a public institution in 1924, serving as a scholarly research library as well as a full service museum.

Woodruff Arts Center by Renzo Piano in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Interior ceiling detail.
Photo © Jonathan Hillyer Photography Inc.
February 27, 2006 /

Woodruff Arts Center
Renzo Piano
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

The new High and Woodruff Arts campus creates a "Village for the Arts" where visitors can experience the finest art, music and theatre in the city.

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church by Renzo Piano in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. Exterior Facade.
Photo: Christian Richters
May 01, 2004 /

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church
Renzo Piano
San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy

The newly inaugurated church, will serve the large number of pilgrims visiting the place where Saint Padre Pio used to live.

Nasher Sculpture Center by Renzo Piano in Dallas, Texas, USA. Exterior Exhibition Garden.
Photo: Tim Hursley
May 26, 2003 /

Nasher Sculpture Center
Renzo Piano
Dallas, Texas, USA

The Nasher Sculpture Center is one of the few institutions in the world devoted to the exhibition, study, and preservation of modern sculpture.

The New York Times Building by Renzo Piano in New York, New York, USA. exterior landscape
Photo © Michel Denancé
May 20, 2002 /

The New York Times Building
Renzo Piano
New York, New York, USA

The 52-story Times Company Headquarters, Renzo Piano's first major project in New York City, occupies one of the last sites in the 42nd Street Development Are; a 13-acre district adjoining Times Square designated for redevelopment in the mid-1980s by New York State and City government.

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