When looking at design, one of the many pieces of advice given to me was through the quote: “An idea is salvation by imagination.” from Frank Lloyd Wright. #truth
I have spent a lot of time in design over the years, and I’m sharing a few of my favourite Architects this month. Another favourite is Renzo Piano. Piano is Italian architect best known for his high-tech public spaces. He has won many awards including the Pritzker Architecture Prize, and AIA Gold Medal Awards.
Renzo Piano was born in 1937 to a family of builders and has always seen himself as an architect with a builder’s roots. In his earlier years he was deeply involved in the mechanics of buildings and, from an early age, learned to think about the use of space. Piano traveled to the United States to work in the Philadelphia office of Louis I. Kahn. He moved on to London to work with Zygmunt Stanisław Makowski, a Polish engineer known for his study and research of spatial structures. In the early 80’s he founded the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Piano has become the most sought-after museum architect in the world. He is renowned for his ability to harmonize buildings both with their external environment and the art exhibited within them.
Piano’s architectural pieces are based on his interest in the piece, the organism, and the building system. He also seems to look at design for industry, and dealing with the problem of housing and cities. He has become famous in part for how he uses space and the different elements of design to promote the public and the public’s interest in spaces. From his early work on the Pompideau Centre in Paris to the Whitney Museum in New York or the Church of Padre Pio in Italy, the architect has focused on innovative ways to promote public space. The California Academy of Sciences writes, “It all began with architect Renzo Piano’s idea to ‘lift up a piece of the park and put a building underneath.'” For Piano, the architecture became part of the landscape. This San Francisco museum claims to be the “world’s greenest museum,” thanks to Piano’s design.
Piano considers himself to be a modern humanist and technologist, which both fit into modernism architecture. Architectural scholars have noted as well that Piano’s work is rooted in the classical traditions of his Italian homeland, and although Piano doesn’t have signature style per se, his work is somewhat characterized by a “genius for balance and context.” Judges for the Pritzker Architecture Prize have credited Piano with redefining modern and postmodern architecture. He pays attention to detail, and like many other architects and designers, he maximizes the use of natural light. Many of Piano’s projects exemplify how massive structures can retain a delicateness. He does speak of a theme though in this quote:
“There is one theme that is very important for me: lightness…In my architecture, I try to use immaterial elements like transparency, lightness, the vibration of the light. I believe that they are as much a part of the composition as the shapes and volumes.”
One of the things I like about Piano’s work is that it does speak into an elegant distinctiveness and socially responsibility that was less common in his working era. He remains one of the most respected, prolific, and innovative architects of his time.