Renzo Piano - Favourite Artist

Topics: Centre Georges Pompidou, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers Pages: 7 (2141 words) Published: January 24, 2011
Graphic Design/Visual Communications

Subjetc: Historical & Contextual Referencing
Brief “Favouriite Artist” Essay
Handup: May 2010
Title: Renzo Piano
Student: Joe McGuire


Renzo Piano is a famous architect renowned for his unique approach to design and his philosophy. He was born into a family of builders and he continued on the tradition of “making things” as he puts it, by designing some award winning & famous buildings, including the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, France, the San Nicola Stadium in Bari, Italy, the Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan and the Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Noumea, New Caledonia. Renzo’s work is highly regarded as art. Each building is innovative, well detailed and each designed with a unique approach. Renzo views light as a “building material” and this is obvious throughout all of his projects.

Born in 1937 in Genoa, Italy, Renzo studied at the University of Florence and the Milan Polytechnic. Following his graduation from architecture school in 1964, he worked in his father’s construction company where he got the chance to design, under the guidance of Franco Albini. Renzo formed his own practice in 1965 before joining Richard Rogers in 1971. It was his last collaboration with Richard Rogers on the controversial Georges Pompidou Centre, in 1977 that initially brought him fame. In 1978 Renzo began a long period of collaboration with Irish engineer Peter Rice, which would produce many fine buildings. Renzo then created the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in 1981, with studios in Genoa and Paris. He received the RIBA Gold Medal in 1989 and the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 1998.


Renzo lists the Renaissance architect, Filippo Brunelleschi among his many inspirations. Brunelleschi, who is famous for inventions including heavy lifting mechanisms based on the inner workings of a clock and linear perspective, was a true innovator and experimenter.

In addition to his 15th century idol, Renzo pays homage to Jean Prouvé‚ of France with whom he formed a friendship while working in collaboration with Louis Kahn in Philadelphia and Z. S. Makowsky in London. Louis Kahn was regarded as a philosopher among architects, he didn’t have many projects (only 25 or so) but he has inspired hundreds. His work infused the “International Style”.

Two other important influences he acknowledges were Buckminster Fuller and Pier Luigi Nervi.


Renzo was born into a family of builders. His grandfather, his father, four uncles and a brother were all contractors, and he admits, he should have been one too. He was seventeen when he approached his father with the idea of going to architecture school. “Why do you want to be just an architect? You can be a builder,” was his father’s response which has never been forgotten. Renzo states that as the main reason for naming his architecture studio the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, rather than Piano Architects & Associates.

While still studying in Milan, Renzo married a girl he had known from school days in Genoa, Magda Arduino. They have three children, two of which have carried on the Piano family tradition, with their son Matteo becoming an industrial designer and their daughter Lia an architect. Renzo & Magda separated during construction of the Georges Pompidou Centre as Magda preferred to be in Genoa, but Renzo was required in Paris.

Renzo met Emilia Rossato when she came to work for him. They were married in 1992 by Jacques Chirac, then the Mayor of Paris who supported the construction of the Georges Pompidou Centre through the many crises.

Renzo’s first important commission was in 1969 to design the Italian Industry Pavilion at Expo ‘70 in Osaka. His late brother, Ermanno, built and installed the pavilion and a number of other projects before his premature death in 1993.

Georges Pompidou Centre, completed 1977.

Renzo Piano’s association with Richard Rogers led to many interesting...
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