THE ART OF MAKING BUILDINGS
Internationally renowned architect, Renzo Piano, shares a comprehensive survey of his career.
Text: Katherine Gannon
One of today’s leading architects, Renzo Piano (b.1937), has enhanced cities and places across the globe with his extraordinary buildings. From designing the Centre Pompidou in Paris as a young architect with Richard Rogers to his more recent projects that include The Shard in London and the new Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, his work continues to pioneer ground-breaking architecture that touches the human soul.
Born in Genoa into a family of Italian builders, you can say architecture and design are in his DNA. His love for architecture brought him to study at The Politecnico di Milano, the oldest and largest technical university in Italy. During this time, he worked in the office of Italian Neo-Rationalist architect and designer, Franco Albini. In 1970, he and British architect, Richard Rogers, set up a practice in London in which the won the competition for Centre Pompidou, which subsequently led them to Paris. In 1981, Piano created the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. With offices located in Paris, Genoa and New York, he and his team of 150, has completed a myriad of projects that include large cultural and institutional buildings, luxury residences, commercial offices, and even urban plans for neighborhoods.
Recently, Piano and the Renzo Piano Building Workshop collaborated with the Royal Academy of Arts to present a comprehensive survey of his career in the exhibit, Renzo Piano: The Art of Making Buildings. Sixteen of his most important projects, dating from his early career to the signature buildings of the present day were included. Highlights included Centre Pompidou, Paris (1971), JeanMarie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Nouméa (1998), The New York Times Building (2007), The Shard, London (2012), Jérôme Seydoux Pathé Foundation, Paris (2014) and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015). Rarely seen archival material, models, photographs, and drawings revealed the process behind the conception and realization of Piano’s famous buildings. Incorporated were the original models made during the design process for the Menil Collection in Houston (1986), that showed how Piano and his team rigorously explored creative ways to bring natural light into the galleries, creating spaces that would be ideal for viewing art. At the heart of the exhibition, was 32 photographs by Gianni Berengo Gardin and a specially commissioned film by Thomas Riedelsheimer highlighting Piano’s personal sensibilities and attitude to architecture.
“It is an honor to be working with the Royal Academy on the inaugural architecture exhibition that aims to show how making buildings is a civic gesture and social responsibility. I believe passionately that architecture is about making a place for people to come together and share values,” explained Piano.
“It was an honor for me to be able to gain insight into the work and achievements of a man who believes passionately in the possibilities of architecture.”