Research _ Greatest Modern Architect – Renzo Piano

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Renzo Piano

Piano was born in

Genoa, Italy, in 1937, into a family of builders. He was educated and subsequently taught at the Politecnico di Milano. He graduated from the University in 1964 with a dissertation about modular coordination (coordinazione modulare) supervised by Giuseppe Ciribini and began working with experimental lightweight structures and basic shelters.



At first, Piano became known for his collaborations with other architects. From 1965 to 1970 he worked at the firm of iconic architect

Louis Kahn in Philadelphia and with Z.S. Makowsky in London. He established an architectural firm with Richard Rogers named Piano & Rogers, where they worked together from 1971 to 1977. Their most famous joint project, together with the Italian architect Gianfranco Franchini, is the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1971). The New York Times has declared that this design “turned the architecture world upside down”.He also had a long collaboration with the engineer Peter Rice, with whom he shared a practice (L’Atelier Piano and Rice) between 1977 and 1981.

In 1981, Piano founded the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which today employs 150 people and maintains offices in

Paris, Genoa, and New York City.

In 1994, Renzo Piano won the international competition for the new Auditorium in

Rome. The Auditorium Parco della Musica, a large multi-functional public music complex situated in the north of city, was inaugurated in 2002. In only a few years, it became the most visited music facility in Europe. In 2001, he designed the Maison Hermes store in Ginza, Tokyo in the design of a traditional Japanese magic lantern.

Piano has become known for his museum commissions, including the

Morgan Library in New York City and the NEMO science museum in Amsterdam. His recent expansion of the Art Institute of Chicago includes a 264,000-square-foot (24,500 m2) wing with 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) of gallery space called the Modern Wing, which opened on 16 May 2009. It includes a “flying carpet”, a sunscreen that hovers above the roof and a 620-foot (190 m) steel bridge connecting Millennium Park to a sculpture terrace that leads into a restaurant on the wing’s third floor. The New York Times stated that “the structure immediately brings to mind the work of Mies van der Rohe.”

Piano’s design for the new building of the

California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco (completed in 2008) also received a significant amount of acclaim, including from the New York Times, which declared it a “comforting reminder of the civilizing function of great art in a barbaric age”.

Recently, a number of Piano’s most notable projects have been completed. These include skyscrapers such as the

The New York Times Building in Midtown, Manhattan and the The Shard in London, Europe’s tallest skyscraper which was opened on July 6, 2012.

He has also received a number of major museum commissions recently including the Botín Center in

Spain, the forthcoming High Line-adjacent location of the Whitney Museum of American Art, a massive new building for the Harvard Art Museums, and The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, California, which will be adjacent to two buildings that he designed for LACMA. He has also created master plans for the expansion of LACMA as well as the Manhattanville campus of Columbia University.

Some of his designs have been controversial however, including the almost-completed Valletta City Gate in Malta which may result in the City’s loss of its UNESCO title.


In 1999, Piano designed a

watch entitled “Jelly Piano (GZ159)” for the Swatch Summer Collection. The watch design is clear and the exposed inner workings were influenced by his Centre Georges Pompidou design.


In 1998, Piano won the

Pritzker Prize, often considered the Nobel Prize of architecture. The jury citation compared Piano to Michelangelo and da Vinci and credited him with “redefining modern and postmodern architecture.”

On 18 March 2008, he became an honorary

citizen of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On 30 August 2013 he was appointed senator for life because of his “outstanding cultural achievements” by the President of the Italian Republic.


Main article:

List of works by Renzo Piano


Cavaliere di Gran Croce Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana, 24 March 1990

Italian Order of Merit for Culture and Art, 28 March 1994[20]

In 1989, Piano was the recipient of the

Royal Gold Medal.

In 1990, Piano was the recipient of the

Kyoto Prize.

In 1995, Piano was the recipient of the

Praemium Imperiale

In 1998, Piano was the recipient of the

Pritzker Architecture Prize.

In 2008, Piano was the recipient of the

AIA Gold Medal.

In 2008, Piano was the recipient of the

Sonning Prize.

In 2002, Piano was the recipient of the

International Union of Architects#UIA Gold Medal.

In 2013, Piano was elected into the

National Academy of Design

Completed in 2012, The Shard skyscraper at London Bridge is the tallest building in Western Europe and an unavoidable addition to London’s skyline. Opened to the public on February 1, 2013, its visitor attraction The View from The Shard allows visitors to admire the capital

Completed in 1977, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris was designed by Piano and Richard Rogers. The cultural attraction contains a library, gallery and various performance spaces

In San Francisco, the California Academy of Sciences is one of the world’s most famous museums of natural history. The building was designed to be energy-efficient and its green roof is intended as a habitat for native plant species

The Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultureal Centre in Nouméa, the capital of the Pacific Island New Caledonia, is another statuesque cultural attraction. It contains exhibition spaces, library and various public recreation spaces.

Near Basel in Switzerland, Fondation Beyeler is a publicly accessible gallery that houses the private collection of art dealers Ernst Beyeler and Hilda Kunz. It was completed in 1997

Kansai Airport is Japan’s second airport and stands on a man-made island about 50km off the coast of Osaka. It was opened in 1994.

In Aquila in Italy, L’Aquila Auditorium is a temporary structure intended to revitalise the city following damage it suffered as a result of the 2009 earthquake. The building is made from timber and to compensate for the amount of trees felled to provide the materials, 200 trees have been planted in the parkland that surrounds the building

The Menil Collection in Houston is a publicly accessible and free art gallery that houses the art collection of John and Dominique de Menil. It opened in 1987 and the collection of 20th-century art includes work by Man Ray, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol and others

The New York Times Building is named after its principal tenant and is a relatively recent addition to New York’s skyline – it was completed in 2007 and at 228 metres in height it’s one of the tallest buildings in the city.

The 7,000sq metre, Renzo Piano-designed Astrup Fearnley Museum opened in Oslo in 2012 and is divided in its centre by a small canal. The attraction was founded in 1993 but a new site was needed to better display its vast collection of contemporary art. In summer, an outdoor beach is

Rome’s Auditorium Parco della Musica is an immense and modern performance space with interesting links to the past. During construction ancient ruins were excavated at the site, and those remains meant alterations needed to be made to the original construction plans. A small museum at the auditorium provides visitors with more information about the discovery.

One of Piano’s more recent commissions is visible at the site of Le Corbusier Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France. He designed a small visitor centre and convent for the Poor Clare nuns who live on the grounds of the monastic site.i101867124__rsw1280h960_szw1280h960_


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