Renzo Piano is One of the best-known architects of the modern age, Renzo Piano (1937) has half a century of work all over the world in a variety of disciplines behind him. Piano graduated from Politecnico di Milano in 1964 and gained experience in Philadelphia and London, but the most important factor in his education was his Paris meeting with Jean Prouvé.
A partner of Richard Rogers between 1971 and ‘77, Piano has also worked with numerous other well-known architects and engineers (Rice, Fitzgerald, Makowsky). His work embraces a variety of fields: from trade fair pavilions to restoration of historic buildings, from studies of materials and processes to boat and furniture design.
Unanimously recognised as highly unusual, Piano’s architecture cannot be traced to any particular “school”, current or style: his concept of design “is not based on a theory but on a way of relating to the project”, featuring “constant interaction between constructive aspects (technological, scientific, productive) and poetic content” (Fiocchi).
From the Italian pavilion at Expo ‘70 in Osaka to Centre Pompidou in Paris (1971-1977), the project that brought Piano world fame, he has produced numerous representative projects, many of them in collaboration with his studio, Renzo Piano Building Workshop (formed in Genoa in 1985, later opening offices in Paris and Osaka), bringing together architects, engineers and designers with a shared yet highly varied methodological and design approach.
Piano’s projects include the Menil Collection in Houston; the UNESCO project with a laboratory in Otranto; Cité Internationale in Lyons; the Museum of Science and Technology in Amsterdam; and Paul Klee Museum in Berne.
He also designed two imposing skyscrapers: The City Tech Tower, the tallest building in Brooklyn, and the Shard in London, which is the tallest building in Europe. Many of his best-known works are in Italy: Bari Stadium, the Church of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, the metro stations in Genoa, the Multiservice Centre in Nola, and the Lingotto in Turin.
The many awards Piano has received include the Legion of Honour (1985), the gold medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects in London (1989) and the Pritzker Prize (1998).