Renzo Piano (born 14 September 1937) is a world renowned Italian architect and recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Piano was born in Genova, Italy, in 1937. His interest for architecture came from his father who was a builder. He was educated and subsequently taught at the Politecnico di Milano. While there, he worked in the studio of Franco Albini, the master of Italian Neo-Rationalism, celebrated for elegantly melding the traditional and technological in his architecture and furniture design.
After graduating in 1964, Piano spent the next five years in study and travel, interning in the offices of architect Louis I Kahn in Philadelphia and Z. S. Makowski, the great Polish engineer and innovator in tensile structures, in London. He also met the French designer Jean Prouvé, known for his muscular yet elegant metal furniture and buildings, who became a mentor.
In 1971, Piano established the firm Piano & Rogers with the young Anglo-Italian architect Richard Rogers. Soon afterward, the Peter Rice, who had been the resident engineer on Jørn Utzon’s landmark Sydney Opera House, invited the partners to join with him in entering an open competition to design the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Piano and Rogers saw an opportunity to explore the bold architectural notions of such British vanguardists as Cedric Price and the collective Archigram. There were 700 other entries in the competition, but Piano and Rogers received the commission and realized the project which was to become one of the seminal works of twentieth century architecture.
In 1980, Piano, now a principal of Atelier Piano & Rice, was approached by the Schlumberger oil-equipment heiress Dominique de Menil to design a museum in Houston. For Piano, this was an opportunity to express a different idea about architecture and the nature of museums. The building which opened in 1987 is an anti-thesis to the Centre Pompidou. It is minimalist in form and unimposing, blending with the houses and scenery around it.
Piano went on to establish the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) in Genoa, Italy in 1981 - the name being a reminder of the importance Piano attaches to the construction part of his job. He produced an extensive body of work includeing numerous museums in Houston, the Beyler Foundation near Basel Switzerland, the extension to the High Museum, Atlanta, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, as well as a variety of other types of buildings which include office buildings, sports stadiums, and educational and cultural facilities.
Renzo Piano received the Pritzker Architecture prize in 1998 and has been recognized with many other awards including the RIBA Gold Medal (1989), the Praemium Imperiale (1995) and the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal (2008).
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