Renzo Piano is an Italian architect born in 1937. Being from a family of builders who owned their own masonry business, Piano went to school for Architecture. In 1964 he graduated from Milan Polytechnic University, after that he taught for 3 years. His emphasis in school was to experiment with lightweight structures and basic shelters, leading to his first building of the IPE factory in Genoa, Italy. Built in 1968, The IPE factory came about at the end of the reconstruction plans the city of Genoa created after World War II. The IPE factory Was built with a roof of steel and reinforced plaster.
Skipping ahead to 1971, Renzo Piano meets Richard Rodgers after hearing he had admired the Osaka structure Piano had built the year before. Richard Rodgers is a British architect that stands for modern, functional, high-tech building. He is responsible for Lloyd’s building in Pompidou Centre in Paris, (Pictured Above). The two create their own firm together that continues to 1977. The B&B Italia was their first project together. An Italian furniture company had commissioned the two to build an administrative building for them. In Novedrate, Como, Italy, this building had suspended containers and an open bearing structure, the conduits for heating and water on the exterior was painted in bright primary colors. Unusual by choice gained a lot of attention and in turn influenced the architecture community worldwide, Shown below.
In 1989 Renzo Piano received the Royal Gold Metal, this is the first of many awards he has received in his lifetime, including the AIA Gold Metal (2008) and the Knight Grand Cross of the Civil Order of Alfonso X ‘The Wise’ (2017). In 2013 he was elected to the National Academy of Design in New York City.
In 2001 Renzo Piano designed the Biosphere in the Old Port of Genoa.
The Biosphere is a giant sphere made of glass and steel that suspends over the sea. The building functions as a learning center for plant and animal life in tropical forests and the effects mankind has made highly endangered. Rare plants live here along with everyday plants, like coffee plants and banana trees, this is possibly with technology and the creation of a micro-climate. (Above and Below- Biosphere)
The biosphere is my favorite work of Renzo Piano. It serves an incredible function while looking awe-inspiring.
The Cultural Center Jean Marie Tjibaou was completed in 1998, located in Noumea, New Caledonia it was dedicated to assassinated political leader Jean Marie Thibaou in 1989.
Piano worked with Pacific and modern cultures for the project. Piano was inspired by the Kanak people, (the people of the small Tinu Peninsula). the Kanak people have a very intimate relationship with nature. The design mixes the concept of traditional Kanak huts, spatially and socially, and made of natural resources like wood and stone but had modern touches of glass and steel. (Shown below)
The New York Times building in New York City was completed in 2007 after Renzo Piano won the tender for construction in 2000. The design goal was to create an energy efficient structure while letting lightness and transparency take priority. This was the first significant project in New York since 9/11, it was a daunting challenge of “secure architecture.” Unlike traditional office high rises, Piano created a open building, abundant with natural light and encouraged the interaction of people. The goal of transparency wasn't just for the collaboration aspect, the New York Times company wanted to portray an image of transparent and honest. The ground level is transparent and features public spaces like restaurants and shops. The creative use of atriums and open colorful vacuums that allow natural light to enter. Exterior thermometers that are connected to an automatic shutter system. Ceramic pipes on the exterior change colors to provide thermal comfort all year.
Recently Renzo Piano has been working on a ‘City Gate’ project for the capital of Maltese, Valletta, seen below. Completed in 2015 the project differs from Piano’s traditional glass box concept and is purposefully designed to give a restrained and strong appearance. The City Gate project worked on reforming the entrance of the city, before a narrow path, now an open sightline to the sky. Piano contributed in an open air theater, a new parliament building, and the renovation of the historical city gate itself.
The new parliament building is created with big blocks of stone that rest on small columns, creating a feeling of lightness. The open-air theater was built from the ruins of the Royal Opera House, originally there was to be a building placed where the ruins stood but Piano proposed the open space and created the theater pictured below.
Piano stated “...I like the idea of uniting the past and the future, history and modernity, in a place like La Velletta and in the ruins of something that was so dear…”
Renzo Piano has had many different inspirations through the years but has always remained focused on lightness and preserving what can be. Many of his works influence my ideas as a new architect. The future of architecture will be repurposing what we already have in order to stay energy efficient. Renzo Piano has done a great job introducing this.