Space Frame, 1969 Barrel Vault, Rome, 1966 B & B Office Near Lake Como, 1971 - 1973 Centre Pompidou Paris, 1971 - 1977

About this talk

Running time: 31 minutes

As Massimo Dini says in his monograph on Renzo Piano (Electa/Architectural Press), Piano's designs defy classification, being bewilderingly varied, ranging from early space frames to an experimental car, to museums, from new buildings to rehabilitated old ones and the restoration of entire neighbourhoods.

Renzo Piano was born in Genoa in 1937 and graduated from the School of Architecture at Milan Polytechnic in 1964. His grandfather, father and brother were all builders so, he says, he came to architecture through the construction for which he has an almost physical love. For him conception and realisation are integral. Five years in England with Professor Z.S. Makowsky, from 1965 - 1970, experimenting with materials, geometry and space frames added the conviction that a scientific understanding of materials and their behaviour is an essential part of an architect's profession.

Working on the Centre Pompidou from 1971 - 1977 with Richard Rogers (see Genesis Of The New Lloyd's Underwriting Room and People Places) confirmed for him the value of the feedback in teamwork. His offices in Genoa and Paris are run as multi-disciplinary workshops for research and experiment. As he says in his talk, science and technology are more and more part of the cultural scene today and architecture must reflect this. The architect has the job of culturalising what is not culture.

Piano has taught and lectured in many cities in Europe, USA and Japan and there have been exhibitions devoted to his work in Italy, Paris, and London. A close collaborator since 1971 has been the engineer Peter Rice (see Exploring The Boundaries Of Design), with whom he had a partnership in Paris, Atelier Piano & Rice, from 1977 for a few years.

Piano has also spoken about his work with tall buildings in New York Times Building & The Shard.

Please note that a transcript of this talk is available - please contact us for further details.

Renzo Piano

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