Piano, Renzo

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Piano, Renzo

Renzo Piano (rĕnt´sō pyä´nō), 1937–, Italian architect, b. Genoa. Piano attended architecture school at Milan Polytechnic, graduating in 1964. The prolific Piano has been lauded for responding to the needs of each building site rather than cleaving to a single architectural style and has also been praised for his command of engineering technology. He worked with architects Louis I. Kahn and Z. S. Makowsky from 1965 to 1970, and came to world attention when he and Richard Rogers designed the Beaubourg (1977), the revolutionary "inside-out" museum in Paris. Piano's subsequent buildings include the Menil Museum, Houston (1981–86), known particularly for the leaflike ferroconcrete louvers that filter the light from its transparent roof; the vast Kansai Air Terminal, Osaka (1994); the long, low, elegantly simple Beyeler Foundation museum, Riehen, Switzerland (1997); and the Tjibaou Cultural Center, Nouméa, New Caledonia (1998), featuring wooden staves reminiscent of local Kanak huts. Among his 21st-century projects are the Parco della Musica, Rome, Italy (2002), a complex of concert halls; the undulating Paul Klee Center, Bern, Switzerland (2005); the Pierpont Morgan Library addition (2006) and the New York Times Building (2007), both in New York City; the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, an addition to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2008); the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco (2008), capped by a "green" roof with skylights; the glass-roofed modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago (2009); the Shard skyscraper, London (2012); the terraced, light-filled Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City (2015); with Richard Rogers, the National Opera and National Library, Athens, Greece (2016), which share a canopy roof; and the Botín arts center, Santander, Spain (2017), raised on pillars and perched on the edge of Santander Bay. Piano was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1998.

See his On Tour with Renzo Piano (2004); P. Buchanan, Renzo Piano Building Workshop (4 vol., 1999–2003); studies by A. Cuito, ed. (1989), P. Jodidio (2005), F. Irace (2007), and V. Newhouse (2007).

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