In the following article, originally published on Metropolis Magazine as “Q&A: Renzo Piano“, Paul Clemence talks with the Italian master of museum design about the design process and philosophies that have brought him such tremendous success in the field – from sketching, to behaving with civility, to buildings that ‘fly’, Piano explains what makes the perfect museum.
There’s a reason why Renzo Piano is known as the master of museum design. The architect has designed 25 of them, 14 in the US alone. Few architects understand as well as Piano—along with his practice, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW)—what board directors, curators, and even the visiting public needs and wants in a cultural institution like a museum. When I spoke with Donna de Salvo, chief curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art, whose new downtown digs were authored by RPBW she remarked on the how the curators’ input was often incorporated into the final building design. “Our curators and the architects had an ongoing dialogue throughout the design of this building,” de Salvo says. “The physical needs of the art were a priority for Renzo and his team, down to the most seemingly minute detail. Our curatorial voice was central to the discussion and has given us a terrifically dynamic building, a uniquely responsive array of spaces for art.”
But what often goes unmentioned is how well Piano’s buildings, particularly his museums, connect to their surroundings. The buildings not only perform well, but they integrate themselves into the life of the city, as if they have always been there. From Beaubourg to The New York Times Building, they fully embrace the space and energy of their urban contexts. Now, as two of his newest and very high-profile museum projects near completion—the renovation and expansion of the Harvard Art Museums (due to open this Fall) and the Whitney Museum of Art (expected to be in use by Spring 2015)—I had a chance to meet with Piano at his Meatpacking District office to talk about the creative process, criticisms, contemporary architecture, and “flying” buildings.
The Shard has been awarded this year’s Emporis Skyscraper Award, bringing the award back to Europe after two consecutive wins in North America – by Absolute Towers in 2013 and New York by Gehry in 2012. Each year, the award honours the world’s best new building over 100m tall.
The award’s jury praised the Shard’s “unique glass fragment-shaped form and its sophisticated architectural implementation”, resulting in “a skyscraper that is recognized immediately and which is already considered London’s new emblem.”
Read on to find out the remaining 10 buildings to take home awards
This time last year we published our 30 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2013 featuring a fantastic range of films telling the tales of some of the world’s greatest unsung architectural heroes. We now bring you eleven more for 2014, looking past the panoply of stars to bring you more of the best architectural documentaries which will provoke, intrigue and beguile.
Sellar Property Group has announced plans to commission yet another Renzo Piano-designed tower in London at the base of The Shard. Replacing the current Fielden House, a 1970s office building located on London Bridge Street, the new 27-story residential tower plans to provide 150 apartments, retail space and roof garden. As part of the area’s regeneration plan, the project will be the third Piano-designed building on the block.
In a recent article for the Denver Post, Ray Rinaldi discusses how the box is making a comeback in U.S. museum design. Stating how architecture in the 2000’s was a lot about swoops, curves, and flying birds – see Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava - he points out the cool cubes of David Chipperfield and Renzo Piano. We’ve rounded up some of these boxy works just for you: the Clyfford Still Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum Expansion, The St. Louis Art Museum’s East Building, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s Barnes Foundation, and Shigeru Ban’s Aspen Art Museum. Each project begins to show how boxes can be strong, secure, and even sly. Check out more about the article here.
“Architecture is too complex to be solved by any one person.”
Richard Rogers is an architect who understands the significance of collaboration. As a man with an intense social mind and a thirst for fairness in architectural and urban design, Rogers’ substantial portfolio of completed and proposed buildings is driven by the Athenian citizen’s oath of “I shall leave this city not less but more beautiful than I found it.”
In honor of his success, London’s Royal Academy (RA) is currently playing host to a vast retrospective of Richard Rogers’ work, from his collaborations with Norman Foster and Renzo Piano, to the large-scale projects that define Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) today. The RA’s extensive exhibition has been condensed into a series of motifs that have defined his architectural work, punctuated by memorabilia which offer personal insights into how Rogers’ career has been shaped by the people he’s worked with and the projects that he has worked on.
Continue after the break for a selection of highlights from the exhibition.
“Architecture is art, but art vastly contaminated by many other things. Contaminated in the best sense of the word – fed, fertilised by many things.” -Renzo Piano
Renzo Piano, the Pritzker-Prize Laureate born in Genoa, Italy, turns 76 today. While Piano was originally expected to follow the family tradition of building, Renzo rebelled to study architecture in Milan. Even so, to this day, Piano maintains a healthy skepticism of academia; indeed, craftsmanship and experimentation are both pillars at the Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
Check out more Renzo Piano, including inspiring quotes and all his works on ArchDaily, after the break….
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.
Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Location: Conci “Villazzano 3″, 38123 Trento, Italy
Design Team: S. Scarabicchi, E. Donadel, M.Menardo, M.Orlandi, G.Traverso, D.Vespier and P.Carrera, L.Soprani, M.Pineda; I.Corsaro
Photographs: Shunji Ishida, Alessandro Gadotti, Enrico Cano, Stefano Goldberg, Paolo Pelanda
From the architect. Over the years, furniture company Vitra has made a name for itself as one of the most architecturally-enlightened companies in the world, with their renowned campus featuring buildings by Nicholas Grimshaw, Frank Gehry, Alvaro Siza, Tadao Ando, Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron and SANAA.
Now, Vitra has announced a collaboration with Renzo Piano that will bridge the gap between their sought-after furniture and their bespoke campus. Diogene, a self contained minimal living space with a floor area of just 2.5 x 3.0 meters, is billed as “Vitra’s smallest building – but largest product”.
More about the design of Diogene after the break
Taking place June 27 – August 2, Gagosian Gallery, in collaboration with Renzo Piano Foundation and generously supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, ‘Fragments’ is an exhibition of more than thirty years of architectural projects by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Equal parts library reading room, school classroom, and natural history gallery, the exhibition consists of twenty-four tabletop displays of scale models, drawings, photographs, and video. Each tells the involved, inspiring story of the design process of a single building, from museums, libraries, and airports to private residences. More information on the exhibition after the break.
Thanks to the courtesy of our friends from Beka & Partners, we are giving you the chance to win one of the five DVD-Books of the Living Architectures collection.
“Living Architectures” is a series of films that seeks to develop a way of looking at architecture which turns away from the current trend of idealizing the representation of our architectural heritage.
The five DVD-Books are: ‘Inside Piano‘, ‘Gehry’s Vertigo‘, ‘Pomerol, Herzog & de Meuron‘, ‘Koolhaas Houselife‘ and ‘Xmas Meier‘. We will have five winners, each of one will receive one randomly. All you have to do to participate is become a registered user (if you’re not one already) and answer the following question in our comments:
“Which architect would you like to see next in the Living Architectures series and why?”
You have until June 24 to submit your answer. Winners will be announced and contacted during the same day.
For more information about the DVD-Books you can check the trailers after the break, or go to www.living-architectures.com for more details. Good luck!
Fifth project of the Living Architectures series, Inside Piano is composed of three films on three symbolic buildings of Renzo Piano’s career. A visit throughout the prototype-building of the Centre Pompidou. An immersion in the soundproof world of a submarine floating in the depths of the Parisian underground. A journey aboard a luminous magic carpet of a highly sophisticated architectural machine. A humorous, caustic and quirky point of view.
It’s surprising to think that Los Angeles - the home of the U.S film industry – doesn’t have a museum solely dedicated to its homegrown artform. However, all that is about to change should the Academy of Motion Pictures have their way.
Last Thursday, plans were unveiled for the long-touted Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, a new museum designed by Renzo Piano and native Los Angeleno architect Zoltan Pali, which will be located in the streamline-moderne Wiltshire May Company building at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, on the campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Although the designs are at an early stage, the released drawings propose to convert the historic building into a museum, while marrying it with a 140-foot-diameter glass dome.
Read more about the project after the break…
The Architectural League of New York announced early this month the award of its 2013 President’s Medal to Renzo Piano of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop.The President’s Medal is the Architectural League’s highest honor and is bestowed, at the discretion of the League’s President and Board of Directors, on individuals to recognize an extraordinary body of work in architecture, urbanism, or design. This award also exemplifies the Architectural League’s 130-year history of encouraging and honoring excellence in architecture, urbanism, and design. The medal was presented to Renzo Piano, one of the world’s most admired architects, by Architectural League President Annabelle Selldorf on April 9th at a dinner with over 350 guests in Manhattan. For more information, please visit here.
Peter Rice has been described as both one of the best engineers and architects of the twentieth century. Unhappy with the role that engineers play in designing buildings, Rice dedicated his life to championing brave innovation and poetry through structure in a way that helped bridge the gap between engineering and architecture. His desire to work in tandem with architects, towards a shared vision, made him one of the most in-demand engineers of the twentieth century.
Read more about this amazing man and check out the video after the break…