"Cities face a choice of building up or building out," says Renzo Piano, according to a recent article on the Daily Mail. Responding to backlash led by the Skyline Campaign, a campaign spearheaded by architect Barbara Weiss that "aims to stop the devastation of London by badly designed and poorly placed tall buildings," Piano is defending London's controversial skyscraper boom by saying it's giving the one thing the city needs most: "space on the ground."
Surpassing the limitations of static imagery, filmmaker Daniele Marucci creates videos that bridge the filmic and architectonic for a richer and more immersive understanding of buildings and their environments. Marucci works with photographer Enrico Cano to share intimate portraits of buildings that slow down our experience by drawing attention to their subtleties. In such practice, we are given the freedom to survey the architecture but also to let our mind wander, to daydream. Often working in remote locations, the frenetic speed of the city is forgotten when a new intensity takes hold.
“Architecture is art, but art vastly contaminated by many other things. Contaminated in the best sense of the word – fed, fertilized by many things.” - Renzo Piano
Italian architect Renzo Piano (born 14 September 1937) is known for his delicate and refined approach to building, deployed in museums and other buildings around the world. Awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1998, the Pritzker Jury compared him to Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Brunelleschi, explaining that "his intellectual curiosity and problem-solving techniques as broad and far ranging as those earlier masters of his native land."
Back in 2012, a dispute arose between the Renzo Piano-designed Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas and the adjacent Museum Tower, a 42-story residential building which was accused of reflecting so much glare through the museum's glass roof that it risked damaging the art inside, and made the museum's garden areas so warm they were unusable. Last week, that 3-year long dispute appears to have been brought to a close - with nothing happening, as the owners of the Museum Tower, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System (DPFP), voted nearly unanimously that it is no longer their responsibility to find a solution.
From November 11th, 2015, to February 29th, 2016, the Cité de l’architecture & du patrimoine in Paris (FR) presents Renzo Piano Building Workshop. The Piano Method, an exhibition dedicated to the work of the Italian architect Renzo Piano.
The exhibition intends to reflect the collective approach of the architectural firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop, by showing the collaborative and experimental dimension of its projects, in term of technical innovation and design solutions on the urban scale. Exploiting the potential of different materials by pushing the limits of construction techniques is the idea.
In a recent article published by The Guardian, Renzo Piano encourages architects to make sandcastles. "There is no age limit," he says, "... it helps you think like a child." The Italian architect credits the start of his career to the first sandcastle he ever made on the Genoa shoreline. "Making things has always been a pleasure for me – happy hands, happy mind – and making sandcastles was my training in fantasy."
Embracing the ephemeral nature of such a building, Piano has provided step-by-step instructions on how to make the "perfect" sandcastle: 1) "Study the waves" and site your castle near the water; 2) Build a 60cm tall "little mountain" with 45° slopes and surround it with a 30cm deep, 45cm wide moat; 3) Allow sea water to enter the moat, sit back and watch; and 4) Top the sand structure with a "little flag" to make it visible, then "go home and don't look back."
Read Renzo's complete sandcastle instructions, here.
Throughout his career, Renzo Piano has designed dozens of museum buildings becoming the most prolific museum designer of our time. Yet, it has been some time since one of his designs has been as widely discussed and analyzed as his latest, the Whitney Museum in New York. In this interview, originally published on The Value of Architecture as "A House for Freedom: an Interview with Renzo Piano," David Plick speaks with Piano about the many inspirations of the Whitney Museum, from the previous Whitney Museum by Marcel Breuer to the neighboring High Line, the city on one side and the river on the other.
Renzo Piano is the great champion of public space. Whether the visitors and citizens of the city are aware of it or not, he improves their quality of life by sharing with them a living space designed specifically for the cultivation and dispersion of ideas and the enrichment of civic life. He’s the architect who cares about the individual’s experience of a building, who cares about how people interact with the space, and how the space then interacts with the world. At the Whitney Museum of American Art, much like the Centre Pompidou, or Beaubourg as he would say, he showed this by including a large area in front—a “piazza” he calls it—for people to meet, congregate, chat, and even loiter. He’s somehow simultaneously innovative and selfless. And because of this, he can masterfully fuse form and function, creating beauty for himself because he loves it and thinks it will save people, yet it all means nothing to him if he can’t share in this emotion with others.
Said to be the most long-awaited museum of the 21st century, the new Whitney Museum of American Art by Renzo Piano officially opened its doors in New York this May after a 30 year endeavor to expand its capacity. An unusual scenario, Charlie Rose sat down with Piano and the museum's director Adam Weinberg to discuss the "remarkable story" behind the expansion and how its design incorporates, what Piano believes to be, seven elements that represent the essence of architecture: social life, urbanity, invention, construction, technology, poetry and light.
We've provided a clip of the talk above. Watch the full 30-minute discussion, after the break.
When Renzo Piano’s addition to the Kimbell opened in late 2013, critical responses ranged from “both architects at the top of their games” (Witold Rybczynski) to “generous to a fault” (Mark Lamster) to “distant defacement” (Thomas de Monchaux). In this excerpt from a special issue of Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston, Ronnie Self gives a deeply considered assessment of the two buildings after a full turn of the seasons. The special issue also includes a review by Christopher Hawthorne of Johnston Marklee's plans for the Menil Drawing Institute, a review by David Heymann of Steven Holl’s expansion of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and an essay by Walter Hood and Carmen Taylor about Project Row Houses. Also featured are interviews of the directors of all four museums and their architects (Piano, Holl, Johnston Marklee, David Chipperfield, and Rice Building Workshop), making for a very comprehensive issue.
Piano’s main task was to respond appropriately to Kahn’s building which he achieved through alignments in plan and elevation and by dividing his project into two major bodies: a concrete walled, glass roofed pavilion facing Kahn and a separate, sod-roofed structure behind that should integrate a significant portion of the project with the landscape and thereby lessen its overall impact. Still, the loss of the open lawn that existed in front of the Kimbell where Piano’s building now stands is regrettable. Kahn’s Kimbell was conceived as a large house or a villa in a park, and unlike much of the abundant open and green space in the Fort Worth Cultural District, that park was actually used. Piano’s new outdoor space is more like a courtyard – more contained and more formal. It is more urban in its design, yet less public in its use.
Aside from lamenting the loss of the open lawn, how might we judge the addition?
Renzo Piano has designed a limited-edition handbag for the Italian fashion brand Max Mara to match his newly completed Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The leather, top-handle bag, inspired by the "pure design and sophisticated materials" of the Whitney, features distinct ribbing inspired by the museum's facade.
"Our aim was to apply one of the most characteristic elements of the museum project - the facade - to the bag: hence the idea of the modular strips enveloping the exterior," said Piano in an interview with Max Mara. "We tried to maintain a simple, pure design, working only on the details by applying a creative use of technology and placing the accent on respect for the materials."
According to the New York Post, Renzo Piano has been commissioned by Michael Shvo and Bizzi & Partners to design his first US residential tower. Planned to rise in the southern Manhattan district of Soho at 100 Varick Street, the Piano-designed tower will include up to 280,000 square-feet of housing and reach nearly 300 feet. Featured amenities include a "gated private driveway" and "automated parking." Stay tuned for more details.
Looking towards the uppermost floors of the new Whitney Museum of American Art, thick clouds roll diagonally across the sky behind. Reflected in the ample window of the museum’s main gallery they dash in a different direction, while the building’s white facade flashes light and dark in response to the changing light conditions. Superimposed over this scene, bold all-caps lettering pronounces the title of an article: the simple but dramatic “A New Whitney.”
This is the sight that greeted readers of Michael Kimmelman’s review of the Whitney in The New York Times last Sunday. Scroll down just a little, and the first thing you encounter is a list of credits: Jeremy Ashkenas and Alicia Desantis produced the article; graphics were contributed by Mika Gröndahl, Yuliya Parshina-Kottas and Graham Roberts; and videos by Damon Winter (the editor behind the entire endeavor, Mary Suh, is not mentioned).
Before even reading the article’s opening words, one thing is clear: this is not your average building review. As a matter of fact, it might even be the most important article in recent architectural memory.
Depending on how you measure it, Renzo Piano's new building for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (designed in collaboration with New York practice Cooper Robertson) could be the most long-awaited museum of the 21st century. At just a fraction under seven years since the first designs of the building were released, the incubation period has been long enough on its own - but in fact the project has its roots in a scrapped 1981 design by Michael Graves, when the Whitney was instead planning an extension to their previous home in Marcel Breuer's 1966 masterpiece on Madison Avenue. With such a highly anticipated building, the Whitney could hardly have a better man for the job; Piano is one of the most prodigious museum builders of our time. Yet despite this, since construction began in 2011 the design has been beset by criticism for its ungainly external appearance.
Ahead of the Whitney's grand opening on May 1st, this past Sunday saw a slew of reviews from New York's many reputable art and architecture critics, who attempted to make sense of the institution's long-overdue move from their idiosyncratic but endearing former home. We've rounded up some of the best of them, after the break.
A group of six young architects under the leadership of Renzo Piano have been hard at work transforming unused spaces within Italy's suburban framework. The team, known as G124, focuses its efforts on injecting life back into overlooked and forgotten areas of its built environment and stimulating the local economy through design. This most recently entailed transforming a long abandoned area under a viaduct in northeast Rome into a bustling cultural hot-spot.
In The New Yorker's latest Postcard from Rome Elizabeth Kolbert talks to Renzo Piano in his Senate Office at the Palazzo Giustiniani, just around the corner from the Pantheon. Piano, who was named a Senator for Life by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in September 2013 (when he was 75 years of age), immediately "handed over the office, along with his government salary, to six much younger architects." He then "asked them to come up with ways to improve the periferie - the often run-down neighborhoods that ring Rome and Italy’s other major cities." Kolbert attests to Piano's belief in the power of museums and libraries and concert halls. For him, "they become places where people share values [and] where they stay together." "This is what I call the civic role of architecture."
With the opening of the Harvard Art Museums a week ago today, Renzo Piano was able to finally complete on a project which, in various guises, has been in progress for seventeen years. The relationship between Piano and Harvard began with a 1997 plan to build a new branch of the Fogg Museum on the Charles River and ended, after objections from locals and then the 2008 recession, in the decision to consolidate the university's three museums (The Fogg, Busch-Reisinger and Arthur M Sackler Museums) under one roof.
With its long history, restricted space, the listed facade of the original Fogg Museum and the ultimate difficult neighbor in Le Corbusier's Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, the Harvard Art Museums project was inevitably going to cause a fuss on completion. So how did Piano do? Find out what the critics said after the break.
Renzo Piano Building Workshop has been awarded planning approval for Feilden House, a 26-storey residential building at London Bridge Quarter, directly adjacent to the Shard. Designed to complement the Shard and Place Buildings, the third piece of Piano's London Bridge Developments will add "generous public realm amenities" to the area at ground level.
In discussion with Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times, Renzo Piano has taken his comments of modesty - verging on "self-deprecation" - to a new level. In response to questions about the design of the proposed Motion Picture Academy in Los Angeles he has said: "I don't think it will be that bad. [...] Actually, I'm struggling to do something good." Although Piano's design has previously been met with criticisms from Hawthorne, the Italian architect notes in this latest interview that "everything we've made at LACMA has been extremely complicated." The project, which has already seen a major alteration in the core design team, remains set to complete in 2015.