Renzo Piano Designs a Flat-Pack Auditorium for L’Aquila

© Marco Caselli Nirmal

In April 2009, the central Italian city of L’Aquila was devastated by a crippling earthquake, claiming lives and causing extensive damage to thousands of buildings, including the leveling of the city’s main auditorium venue. Nearing the fourth anniversary of this tragic disaster, the Italian city of has donated a -designed auditorium, which was inaugurated in October, in an effort to aid the reconstruction of this medieval city.

Creating an illusion of instability, the auditorium is formed by three interconnected cubes made entirely of wood (1.165 cubic meters in total) that ironically appears as they had “haphazardly tumbled down” and came to rest upon each other. The entire structure was prefabricated and then assembled onsite by Log Engineering, who pieced it together with 800,000 nails, 100,000 screws and 10,000 brackets.

Renzo Piano Talks Architecture and Discusses ‘The Shard’ with BBC News

BBC’s Sarah Montague , the mastermind behind London’s most controversial and newest skyscraper: ‘The Shard’. Prior to the interview,  Montague spotted Piano blending into the crowd during the opening of the 310-meter skyscraper “spying” on the onlookers. When asked about this moment, Piano revealed the great advice he received from the prominent Italian film director Roberto Rossellini upon the completion of the Pompidou Center in Paris: “You do not look at the building, you look at the people looking at the building.” It was during this moment that Piano observed “surprise” and “wonder, but not fear” amongst the onlookers – a reaction he seemed to be content with.

Despite Piano’s attempt to refrain from controversy, it is hard to avoid when your design intends to celebrate a “shift in society” as does the ‘Shard’. Change tends to stir mixed emotions and spark debate. However, being part of this “human adventure” as an architect is what Piano finds most rewarding. He states: “You don’t change the world as an architect, but you celebrate the change of the world.”

The Menil Collection selected to receive AIA Twenty-five Year Award

© Paul Hester

The Menil Collection Houston, designed by architect Renzo Piano, has been selected for the 2013 Twenty-five Year Award. Recognizing architectural design of enduring significance, the Twenty-five Year Award is conferred on a building that has stood the test of time for 25 to 35 years as an embodiment of architectural excellence. Projects must demonstrate excellence in function, in the distinguished execution of its original program, and in the creative aspects of its statement by today’s standards. The award will be presented this June at the National Convention in Denver.

More on The Menil Collection after the break.

Tower of London Competition 1890

© Descriptive illustrated catalogue of the sixty-eight competitive designs for the great tower for London compiled and edited by Fred. C. Lynde

While the Eiffel Tower was negatively received at first for its utilitarian appearance, it soon became a major attraction for Paris, France in the late 19th century. It represented structural ingenuity and innovation and soon became a major feat, rising to 300 meters of7,500 tons of steel and iron. Just three years after its unveiling, London sponsored a competition for its own version of the tower in 1890. The Tower Company, Limited collected 68 designs, all variations of the design of the Eiffel Tower. Proposals were submitted from the , Canada, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Turkey and Australia.  Many of the designs are bizarre interpretations of utilitarian structures, following the aesthetics of the Eiffel Tower, only bigger and taller.

Join us after the break for more on the story of the .

Update: Nasher Sculpture Center Controversy

© Tim Hursley

As an update to the article we posted several months ago regarding the disputed ‘hot spot’ in between Renzo Piano‘s Nasher Sculpture Center and the adjacent residential tower, the controversy is still a hot issue. The reflection caused by the sculpture center is still something they have not been able to solve. Any solution will be costly and difficult. The Nasher people have recommended louvers covering the tower’s south face. The tower people say that this will require a computer-generated engine for every window, about two years to study, even more time to install. And it may not work. More information after the break.

Renzo Piano is not an architect

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Well, according to the UK’s Architects Registration Board (ARB) he isn’t.

Last week, BDOnline received an email from the ARB asking them to refrain from calling Renzo Piano and Daniel Libeskind an architect, since “they are not registered with the ARB they are not entitled to be described as such”.

The statement said: “BD referred to two eminent individuals as architects – neither of whom are on the UK register. This is one of a number of peripheral areas, and architects often contact us when they are concerned about the use of the title ‘architect’ in the press although no breach of the legislation in fact occurs.”

AD Interviews: Renzo Piano – Part II

Part I – Part II – Part III

We continue with the second part of our exclusive interview with Renzo Piano.

Since first achieving international fame in 1978 with the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, Renzo Piano has become known as a prolific, Italian architect capable of achieving a masterful balance between art, architecture and engineering. His intellectual curiosity and problem-solving techniques have led him to develop a wide-ranging portfolio that successfully merges high technology with humane and comfortable environments.

Sophisticated, refined and elegant, the presence of Renzo Piano’s work is internationally celebrated. Originally born into a family of Italian builders, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect now leads a staff of 150 at his practice, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, from three locations – Genoa, Paris and New York.

Watch Part III.

AD Interviews: Renzo Piano – Part I

Part I – Part IIPart III

Since first achieving international fame in 1978 with the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, Renzo Piano has become known as a prolific, Italian architect capable of achieving a masterful balance between art, architecture and engineering. His intellectual curiosity and problem-solving techniques have led him to develop a wide-ranging portfolio that successfully merges high technology with humane and comfortable environments. Sophisticated, refined and elegant, the presence of Renzo Piano’s work is internationally celebrated. Originally born into a family of Italian builders, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect now leads a staff of 150 at his practice, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, from three locations – Genoa, Paris and New York. Architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff of The New York Times described Piano’s work the best when he stated: “The serenity of his best buildings can almost make you believe that we live in a civilized world.” The next part of the interview will air on Monday Sept, 17th. Renzo Piano completed works featured on ArchDaily:

In Progress:

You can also read our editorials Piano’s Progress and The Shard: A Skyscraper for our Post 9/11 World?.

The Shard: A Skyscraper For Our Post-9/11 World?

The Shard, by Renzo Piano, towers over the London skyline.

When the Twin Towers came down 11 years ago (almost to the day), the world was struck numb. Even New Yorkers, who felt the trauma rumble through their veins, couldn’t get past the initial disbelief: how can this be happening? How can something so big, so invincible, actually be so vulnerable?

Hundreds of comments have been hurled at Renzo Piano’s “Shard,” the massive, reflective skyscraper that hulks over the London skyline – it’s big, no, huge; it’s out of the context of its Victorian neighborhood; its exclusive price tag could only be footed by Qatar royalty (as it is) – but few, beyond writing off the tower as a symbol of arrogance or hubris, have stopped to consider its impetus.

For that, we must look at the Shard in the context of . Only then can the Shard be understood for what it is: the amplification and perfection of the glass tower Piano began in post-9/11 , a utopian vision that stands defiantly in defense of the city itself.

Piano’s Progress

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In honor of Renzo Piano’s 75th (gasp!) birthday, we offer an update on his latest projects.  The septuagenarian has several large-scale works in various stages of construction scattered across the world, and has celebrated the opening of others within this past year.  While we have been continuously following the conceptualization, construction and completion of the Shard, Renzo’s talent is sweeping across major cities both in the States and Europe, including: a satellite museum in New York; a cultural hub for Athens; an urban cultural catalyst for Santander, Spain; an interior renovation for Los Angeles; a recently completed museum wing for Boston; plus, a redeveloped brownfield site turned science center for Trento, Italy.  No matter the project location, scale, or program, Piano’s  ability to craft an architecture with a sense of lightness, strong attention to detail and overall aesthetic elegance sets him in a very particular category of the profession.

So, here’s to a happy 75th and 75 more years of great architecture, Renzo!

More after the break.

In Progress: MUSE Museum of Science / Renzo Piano

© RPBW – Stefano Goldberg

Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Location: Trento,
Architect: Renzo Piano
Project Year: 2012
Photographs: Courtesy of RPBW, RPBW – Stefano Goldberg, RPBW – Paolo Pelanda, Colombo Costruzioni – Alessandro Gadutti, RPBW – Cristiano Zaccaria

Does the Shard Need Time?

Getty Images

The disappointment generated by the Shard’s opening laser light show is not so surprising for a project that has been grounded in controversy for over a decade.  Since 2000, when Piano sketched his initial vision upon meeting developer Irvine Sellar, the project has consistently met obstacles such as English Heritage and the financial crash of 2007.   But, the biggest opposition of the tower has been its height.  English Heritage claimed that the tower, formerly known as Bridge Tower, would “tear through historic like a shard of glass” (ironically, coining the new name of the tower), and Piano counters that, “The best architecture takes time to be understood…I would prefer people to judge it not now. Judge it in 10 years’ time.”

Leading us to wonder…does simply need time to be fully appreciated?

The Shard’s Opening Celebration

Opening Celebration / Tonight at 10.15

Tonight, Renzo Piano’s Shard will officially celebrate its opening complete with an amazing light show.  A dozen lasers and thirty searchlights will beam streams of light across the city, creating a network between 15 other significant landmarks in London, such as the Gherkin, London Eye, Tate Modern, and Tower Bridge.  (So, if you are in London, don’t miss the event at 10.15 this evening, and be sure to share some photos with us!)

Capping out at 310 meters, has become the tallest building in London, as well as the entire European Union.  We have been following the history of Renzo Piano’s creation, and although laden with financial troubles, a change in developers,  and criticism from Londoners, the project has finally reached completion.

More about the history of the tower after the break.

Update: Botín Center / Renzo Piano

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A week ago we told you about the Botín Center, Renzo Piano’s first major project in . We also featured some preliminar models of the project and more information on this building, which will have the largest private foundation in invest over 150 million USD. We now have more official images, including some drawings and sketches. Check them out after the break.

Dallas’s Disputed “Hot Spot”


The in Dallas designed by Renzo Piano and the neighboring 42-story Museum Tower are embroiled in a dispute revolving around the adverse effects of glare reflecting into the Nasher’s interior gallery and garden. Currently in mediation over possible solutions, the topic certainly brings to light the implications involved in highly glazed high-rise construction and the surrounding buildings. More details after the break.

Botín Center / Renzo Piano

Botín Center. © Renzo Piano

While all eyes may be locked on the Shard’s latest push toward the sky, Renzo Piano is preparing for his first major Spanish project to officially break ground in about one week in Santander. The Botín Foundation, the largest private foundation in , will invest over 150 million USD for the construction and programming of a new Botín Center that will become an international reference in culture and education for the development of creativity through art. The building will inform a new axis to connect the best art circuits in Europe and will serve as a  catalyst to bridge the community with art.  Emilio Botín, President of the Botín Foundation, is confident the Center will establish a new community space and link the city with the bay.  ”To accomplish it, we have called on the best architect in the world. The architect, who best knows how to link cities to the sea, to build urban spaces, and to generate magical places where art may be enjoyed,” explained Botín.

More about the project after the break. 

Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali to design the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

© Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Award-winning architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali will design the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science announced today. “Renzo’s track record of creating iconic cultural landmarks combined with Zoltan’s success in transforming historically-significant buildings is a perfect marriage for a museum that celebrates the history and the future of the movies,” said Dawn Hudson, Academy CEO.

Piano designed the expansion of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), whose campus will include the upcoming Academy museum.

Pali, a native, is renowned for his -area restorations of the Greek Theatre, the Gibson Amphitheatre, and the Pantages Theatre, the latter earning SPF:a an LABC Award for Historic Preservation. For the firm’s work as the executive architects on the renovation and expansion of the Getty Villa museum, SPF:a received the Los Angeles Presidential Award.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will be established in the historic May Company building, now known as LACMA West. Opened in 1939, the building is a 325,000-square foot art moderne landmark located at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.

Interview: Renzo Piano on Innovation / AR Innovators

In his interview with Renzo PianoRob Gregory of Architectural Review discusses architecture, responsibility and innovation within the field.  Piano talks about architecture is being a highly considered inquiry into the process of making because “architecture is more lasting and profound” and if it is done wrong, with the wrong intentions and assumptions, then “it is wrong for a long time”.  In regards to his work, speaks about the “good and bad stories” that surround buildings.  Mentioning The Shard in London, designed in partnership with Hunter Douglas and Pompidou Centre, designed in collaboration with Richard Rogers, Piano reflects on the role of architecture in a city as a public building and magnet.

More after the break.