Pritzker Prize–winning Italian architect Renzo Piano started his career working with architect Louis Kahn in Philadelphia. In the 1970s he joined forces with Richard Rogers, creating the astonishing Centre Pompidou in Paris, which challenged architectural conventions of the time. A decade later Piano founded his own firm, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which maintains offices in Paris, New York, and Genoa, Italy. At the head of this firm the architect has unveiled a string of high-profile projects, including the New York Times Building in Manhattan, the Shard in London, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
HIGHLIGHT: RENZO PIANO
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1977)
The project – which was contentious at its opening in 1977 – has gone on to become one of the world’s most significant and loved modern buildings.
The main concept – for a building which would be flexible with exterior elements that could be detached and replaced through its lifespan – still remains today. Containing gallery space alongside a library, a research centre, auditorium and cinemas, the Pompidou Centre sits within a large and vibrant public space. Famed for its inside-out approach and resulting brightly coloured facade, the centre has become a Parisian landmark.
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco (2008)
When it was completed more than a decade ago, Piano’s California Academy of Sciences, signalled a significant development in sustainable architecture. Designed to be the greenest museum in the world, the building received LEED Platinum (the highest green standard in the US) and featured many elements which contributed to its eco-credentials.
The Shard, London (2012)
For Londoners, the Shard is one of Piano’s most recognisable buildings. Reaching up 72 storeys above London Bridge, the mixed-use tower has been designed in response to its uses – with larger floor plates at the bottom for offices, restaurants and hotel in the centre, and private apartments and a viewing gallery to the top of the building where its form is narrowest.
Jérôme Seydoux Pathé Foundation, Paris (2014)
Dedicated to the promotion of cinematography, Piano’s headquarters for the Jérôme Seydoux Pathé Foundation, house the foundation’s offices and archives alongside exhibition spaces and a 70-seat screening room. Nestled within an urban block in the centre of Paris, the building sits on the site of a mid-19th century theatre which was transformed into one of Paris’ first cinemas in the mid-1900s. While two buildings on the site were demolished, the facade on the Avenue des Gobelins, which features sculptures by Auguste Rodin, was restored and preserved. Behind it a new curved transparent building appears to float above the courtyard.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015)
Sat between the Hudson River and New York’s High Line, Piano’s Whitney Museum of American Art was designed to bring the gallery, which had been scattered in various buildings. Resembling a stack of blocks, the building responds to the industrial nature of the Meatpacking District where it sits, and at ground level a large cantilevered entrance transforms the area outside the building into a public space.
Centro Botin, Santander (2017)
Located in the Spanish city of Santander, the Centro Botín is a space for art, culture and education, and is Piano’s first building in Spain. The 10,000m2 project is split across two D-shaped blocks joined by an elevated glass and steel walkway that cantilevers out over the sea.