God created this world and the living beings. Off all wonders created by god not every time he has chiseled himself, but has sent the artists and geniuses to make the wonders. Renzo Piano the 1998 Laureate of Pritzker Architecture prize is one such craftsmen of outer world, for the creation he created demands the attention and respect of the highest order in the field of architecture.
A glimpse of the creativity
Renzo’s work is a rare blending of the art, architecture and engineering with a dash of intellectuality toped and garnished with classical Italian philosophy and tradition. And believe me all this in the motherboard of technology matching with the era. The buildings of Renzo does not show stagnancy in any form of scale, material or design rather his creations reflects the innovative mind of his matching with the changing world. Piano follows the ancient code of the architect believing the full command over the building process from design to the complete build work. Off course such sensibility and awareness is expected from the descendent of a family devoted to building profession. His buildings are not just any tangible creation of bricks, stones, cement, iron and asbestos but rather epitomes of creativity to the extent of being alive in its own sense. Renzo’s list of creation includes homes to apartments, offices to shopping centers, museums, factories, workshops and studios, airline and railway terminals, expositions, theatres and churches, city planning, bridges, ships, boats and cars.
The chiseling of an architect
The creator was born in 1937 in Genoa in Italy. The family of contractors includes his grandfather, father, four uncles and a brother was up against the idea of his choosing architecture as a career option. Much against the odds Renzo completed his graduation from the Milan Polytechnic Architecture school in the year 1964. His work started in his fathers construction company under the able guidance of Franco Albini. By now Renzo was married with a girl he had known from his school days, Magda Arduino. Their first child Carlo who was now a journalist was born in 1965 three years later to be followed by their another son Matteo, now an freelance industrial designer and then lastly daughter Lia pursuing a career in architecture. Renzo admires and is inspired by certain people’s works in his life some of whom he has worked also. To name some, his fifteenth century idol Brunelleschi, Jean Prouv of France with whom he worked during the period of 1965-70 and Z.S.Makowsky.
The first significant assignment of Piano was in 1969 wherein he designed the Italian pavilon at Expo 70 in Osaka. The event was important in a way also as he met the young Richard Rogers who was impressed by the way Renzo has planned the entire episode. Their liaison was fruitful in the forthcoming events as both entered the international competition for the Georges Pompidou Center also known as Beaubourg – a million square feet works of figurative arts, music, industrial design and literature. Much to appraise are the project on IRCAM extension and the reconstruction of Atelier Brancusi.The work got so much of international acclamation that till today millions of people are fan for the structure which can be described as a joyful urban machine. But Renzo has to pay the price for it as he separated from his wife. However he was remarried in 1992 with Emilia Rossato. The works of Renzo was creations of their own with each work different from the other still having the signature of the genius. His designed Museum Village in Houston completed in 1986 is made up of several building with the spectacular roof of several thin section of reinforced concrete integrated with a steel lattice. This host late Dominique Schlumberger de Menil collections. The Cy Twombly gallery, which is the bank and exhibition of permanent pictures and sculptures of Cy Twombly, was made five years later. 1979 Italian television hosted Habitat, an educational program with Renzo. Even companies like IBM invited Renzo to design a travelling pavilon to visit 20 European cities to convey marvels of new technology. One of the major works he liked and appreciated very much is the conversion of Lingotto factory in 1988. A 1920’s Fiat automobiles manufacturing plant was changed to a multidimensional structure with accommodation for center for technology and tradefair, university, park, exhibition and meeting space and the most remarkable bubble space in the roof. The UNESCO laboratory and workshop in 1989 on the coast of Genoa is a mark of serenity and peace matching with the concept and is build in a way to be known as Punta Nave or rock and ship. The 500th anniversary of the discovery of America in the name of the Columbus International Exposition, organized in Genoa was again a tribute by Renzo with its restructured cotton warehouses, harbor office, aquariums, the gigantic derrick Bigo all done in the year 1992. 1995 was however a remarkable year with Renzo designing the 37 acres mixed use complex in Cit International in Lyon France. This includes office, conference center, museum, hotel, and casino and movie theatre all along the river Rhone. His versatility can be witnessed in the creation of San Nicola stadium in Bari Italy in 1990, which hosted the world soccer championship. The stadium is unique with its 26 petals of 310 crescent shaped elements. Same year was the birth of Bercy 2 shopping center in Charenton le Pont (Paris). Creativity has no end as evident from the Kansai air terminal in Osaka Japan. The 15 square kilometer structure resembles a glider can hold 100000 passengers a day is build in an artificial island. Some of Piano’s precious gems was carved in the year 1997 starting with the Tjibaou cultural center of three villages, the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin and the national center for science and technology in Amsterdam on top of the entrance of the tunnel that runs under the harbor. The wonders awaited are a new Mercedes Benz design center in Germany, a new auditorium for Rome, art museum in Cambridge and lots more.
The feathers on the cap
One may get tired of counting the award and prizes Renzo has bagged in all these years but just to have an idea lets have a quick look on those as well.1978 was the year to get the International Union of Architect prize, 1981 the Compasso d’oro Milan, 1985 the Legion d’honneur France, 1990 honorary doctorate Stuttgard university, 1994 honorary fellowship, American academy of arts and letters and goodwill ambassador for architecture UNESCO, 1995 art prize, Akademie der Kunste Berlin, 1996 Premio Capo Circeo Italy , to name some.
The sense of duty towards the society increase as one reaches the zenith of achievements and Renzo is no exception to that. He along with Renzo Piano building workshop jointly created the educational workshop foundation in 2001 with an effort to engage students directly to the practical aspects of the architectural process of designing and constructing. Currently this foundation is running an internship program in Genoa and Paris. With 12 students per year drawn from selected universities all over the world the attempt is to make the students face the realities of the architectural work and to bridge the gap between academic learning and projects. The internship has agreement with universities like MIT, University of Brasilia, Waseda University, University of Texas and Universita di Genova to name some.
Talents like Renzo Piano are rare occurrence in our earth and should be realized for their virtues. Renzo Piano no doubt will create much wonders in the coming years which will certainly be the mark of civilization in the future and will describe the glory of art and creativity.