14 September 2017

Renzo Piano – architect

Designer of innovative buildings is now an Italian senator

Renzo Piano was born into a family of builders
Renzo Piano was born into a family of builders
Award-winning architect Renzo Piano was born on this day in 1937 in Genoa.

Piano is well-known for his high-tech designs for public spaces and is particularly famous for the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, which he worked on in collaboration with the British architect, Richard Rogers.

Among the many awards and prizes Piano has received for his work are the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale prize for architecture in 1995, the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1998 and the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 2008.

Piano was born into a family of builders and graduated from the Polytechnic in Milan in 1964. He completed his first building, the IPE factory in Genoa, in 1968 with a roof of steel and reinforced polyester.

He worked with a variety of architects, including his father, Carlo Piano, until he established a partnership with Rogers, which lasted from 1971-1977.

The Shard in London is one of Piano's landmark buildings
The Shard in London is one of
Piano's landmark buildings
They made the Centre Georges Pompidou look like an urban machine with their innovative design and it immediately gained the attention of the international architectural community.

In Italy, Piano designed a new look for the old port of Genoa to transform it from a rundown industrial area into a cultural centre and tourist attraction. Other important commissions in Italy were the San Nicola Stadium in Bari, started in 1987 and completed in time for the 1990 football World Cup, and the Auditorium Parco della Musica, built between 1994 and 2002 in Rome.

One of his most celebrated 21st century projects, notable for its green architecture, was a new building for the California Academy of Science in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, which was completed in 2008.

Piano converted a massive Fiat factory in Turin into a convention centre and venue for the city’s trade fair. His design for the Shard in London made it the tallest building in western Europe when it was completed in 2012 and it now towers above the historical skyline of London.

In 2013 Piano was appointed Senator for Life in the Italian Senate by President Giorgio Napolitano.

Piano currently lives in Paris with his wife, Milly. They have four children.

Piano's harbour development in his native Genoa
Piano's harbour development in his native Genoa
Travel tip:

The old harbour in Genoa, porto antico, is the ancient part of the port which served the city when the main access to it was from the sea. Renzo Piano redeveloped the area for public access, restoring the historic buildings and creating new landmarks such as the Aquarium and the Bolla (Sphere).

The 'armadillo shells' of the Auditorium Parco della Musica
The 'armadillo shells' of the Auditorium Parco della Musica
Travel tip:

The Parco della Musica in Rome is a complex of music venues located in the part of Rome that hosted the 1960 summer Olympics. Piano designed it to have three theatres, covered with what New York Times critic Sam Lubell described as 'weathered, armadillo-like steel shells', and an outdoor theatre set in a park. During construction, excavations uncovered the foundations of a villa and an oil press dating from the sixth century BC. Piano adjusted his design to accommodate the archaeological remains and included a small museum to house the artefacts that were discovered.

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