Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano has been named a senator for life by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, giving him the right to vote in the Parliament’s Upper House. Napolitano also appointed three others to the position, including Claudio Abbado (an accomplished conductor), Elena Cattaneo (a biologist specializing in stem cell research), and Carlo Rubbia (a Nobel Prize winning particle physicist).
In a statement, the president said that he is sure that all four "will make a special contribution to their extremely significant fields," noting that the positions were allocated "in absolute independence of any party political considerations" in wake of the Senate’s current tension surrounding former President Silvio Berlusconi.
Having been an Officer of the Italian Order of Merit for Culture and Art since 1994, the 75-year-old architect is now one of only six Life Senators in the Italian government. His portfolio, which includes the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and most recently The Shard in London, have been recognized through a number of architectural awards ranging from the RIBA Gold Medal (1989), the AIA Gold Medal (2008), and the Pritzker Prize for Japan’s Kansai International Airport in 1998.
The Renzo Piano Building Workshop, known as one of the world’s leading museum designers, is currently working on the expansion to Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, Texas), among others, having just completed the MUSE Science Museum in Trento, Italy.