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Renzo Piano at London’s Royal Academy of Arts

Piano in place.

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Architect Renzo Piano is renowned for balancing precision and artistry in his major international projects. An exhibition currently on at the Royal Academy of Arts—Renzo Piano: The Art of Making Buildings—explores his five-decade career, highlighting 16 of Piano’s most recognized designs, including the New York Times Building and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Shard in London, and Centre Pompidou in Paris. The show displays rare drawings, models, photography, and mock-ups detailing the inventive process the architect uses to create his visionary, elegant buildings. Featured in the presentation is a specially created “island” of nearly 100 Piano structures—a visual fusion of his life’s work.

The Art of Making Buildings traces Piano’s career, beginning with his origins in Genoa, Italy, against the backdrop of a family masonry enterprise, and provides viewers with a nuanced understanding of his career. After studying architecture in Milan, Piano received broad recognition for his collaboration with Richard Rogers, the playful Centre Pompidou, as well as the building he conceived with Peter Rice, the minimalist Menil Collection. Among Piano’s hallmarks is versatility, reflecting his preference for taking on distinctive ventures over having a defining architectural style. One of the few recognizable threads within his work is a refined attention to light and openness, which is as much a part of each project as form and engineering.

In the years since Piano’s initial acclaim, he has devised many buildings with his piece by piece approach to composition. His structures are celebrated for their blend of tradition and new vision in creative design, earning him a Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1998. With each endeavour, he aims to not only transform the space, but to visually complete the environment where it is realized. In fact, Piano will not accept an assignment until he has spent ample time in the city and exact location of the building being developed.

Renzo Piano: The Art of Making Buildings will be at the Royal Academy of Arts in London until January 20, 2019. The exhibition has been organized in collaboration with Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Fondazione Renzo Piano.

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December 11, 2018