Renzo Piano Portfolio of Buildings and Projects

01
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Centre George Pompidou in Paris, France

Escalator tube in the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, France.
Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, architects. 1977 Escalator tube in the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, France. Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, Pritzker Prize-winning architects. 1977. Photo by Muntz/Photodisc/Getty Images

Photos of buildings and projects by Renzo Piano

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano designs "High-Tech" buildings that showcase technological shapes and materials. Yet as you view these photos, you will notice refined, classical styling and a nod toward the past.

The "High-tech" Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris revolutionized museum design.

Museums of the past had been elite monuments. In contrast, the Pompidou was designed as a busy center for social activities and cultural exchange.

With support beams, duct work, and other functional elements placed on the exterior of the building, Centre Pompidou in Paris appears to be turned inside out, revealing its inner workings. Centre Pompidou is often cited as a landmark example of High-Tech Architecture.

See more images of Centre George Pompidou:

02
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Columbus International Exposition, Genoa, Italy

Columbus International Exposition, Genoa, Italy. Renzo Piano, architect. 1992
Renzo Piano, architect. 1992 Columbus International Exposition, Genoa, Italy. Renzo Piano, Pritzker Prize-winning architect. 1992. Photo © Publiphoto, courtesy the Pritzker Prize Committee

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano designs "High-Tech" buildings that showcase technological shapes and materials.

03
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San Nicola Stadium in Bari, Italy

San Nicola Stadium in Bari, Italy. Renzo Piano, architect. 1990
Renzo Piano, architect. 1990 San Nicola Stadium in Bari, Italy. Renzo Piano, Pritzker Prize-winning architect. 1990. Photo © Berengo Gardin, courtesy the Pritzker Prize Committee

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano incorporated vast expanses of sky into the design of this saucer-shaped soccer stadium in Bari, Italy.

04
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The Renzo Piano Building Workshop at Punta Nave in Genoa, Italy

The Renzo Piano Building Workshop at Punta Nave in Genoa, Italy. Renzo Piano, architect. 1991
Renzo Piano, architect. 1991 The Renzo Piano Building Workshop at Punta Nave in Genoa, Italy. Renzo Piano, Pritzker Prize-winning architect. 1991. Photo © Fregoso & Basalto, courtesy the Pritzker Prize Committee

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano designed and built his architecture "workshop" in collaboration with UNESCO.

Piano and his brother Ermanno's firm collaborated with UNESCO to establish a research station that would study the ways plant fibers can be used for architecture. They constructed the Renzo Piano Building Workshop on a steep cliff between the mountains and the sea on the Ligurian coast. The surrounding land is used by UNESCO scientists to grow bamboo, agave, and cane.

The Workshop building resembles a giant butterfly. Glass and louvre roofs flood the interior spaces with natural light. This environment has made the Renzo Piano Building Workshop an inspiring retreat for architects and engineers.

05
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IRCAM Extension, Institute for Acoustic Research in Paris, France

IRCAM Extension, Institute for Acoustic Research in Paris, France. Renzo Piano, architect. 1990
Renzo Piano,architect. 1990 IRCAM Extension, Institute for Acoustic Research in Paris, France. Renzo Piano, Pritzker Prize-winning architect. 1990. Photo courtesy the Pritzker Prize Committee

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano designs "High-Tech" buildings that showcase technological shapes and materials.

06
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Kansai International Airport Terminal in Osaka, Japan

Departing area inside Kansai International Airport Terminal, Osaka, Japan, Renzo Piano, 1988-1994
Renzo Piano, architect. 1994 Kansai International Airport Terminal in Osaka, Japan. Renzo Piano, 1988-1994. Photo by Hidetsugu Mori/Aflo/Getty Images

Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, Kansai is one of the largest air terminals in the world.

When Italian architect Renzo Piano first visited the site for the new Kansai airport, he had to travel by boat from Osaka harbor. There was no land to build on. Instead, the airport was constructed on an artificial island, 4.37 x 1.25 kilometers, resting on a million support columns. Each support pile can be adjusted by a built-in individual hydraulic jack attached to sensors.

Inspired by the challenge of building on a man-made island, Piano drew sketches of a large glider landing on the proposed island. He then modeled his plan for the airport after the shape of an airplane with corridors stretching out like wings from a main hall.

About the Terminal:

  • 1.7 km long
  • "undulating, asymmetrical layout" designed "according to a toroidal geometry"
  • 82,000 identical stainless steel panels
  • earthquake and tsunami resistant

About the Terminal Roof:

" The roof's cross section has the shape of an irregular arc (which is actually a series of arcs of different radii). It was given this shape in order to direct the air from the passenger side to the runway side without requiring the use of closed conduits. Blade-like deflectors guide the air flow along the ceiling and reflect the light from above. Thus, all of the elements that would have obscured the view of the structure have been eliminated."

Source: Story - Kansai International Airport Terminal, Foundation Renzo Piano [accessed July 15, 2014]

07
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Lingotto Factory Conversion in Turin, Italy

Lingotto Factory Conversion in Turin, Italy. Renzo Piano, architect. 1994
Renzo Piano, architect. 1994 Lingotto Factory Conversion in Turin, Italy. Renzo Piano, Pritzker Prize-winning architect. 1994. Photo © M. Denancé, courtesy the Pritzker Prize Committee

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano designs "High-Tech" buildings that showcase technological shapes and materials.

08
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The Cy Twombly Gallery at the Menil Collection Museum in Houston, Texas

The Cy Twombly Gallery at the Menil Collection Museum in Houston, Texas. Renzo Piano, architect.
Renzo Piano, architect. 1995 The Cy Twombly Gallery at the Menil Collection Museum in Houston, Texas. Renzo Piano, architect. 1995. Photo © Hickey Robertson, courtesy the Pritzker Prize Committee

Experimental forms and a sensitivity to context guided Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano in his designs for the Menil Collection Museum in Houston.

Designed by Renzo Piano, the Menil Collection Museum in Houston first opened in 1987. Piano's design for the Cy Twombly Gallery was added in 1995.

09
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Congress Center and Offices in Lyon, France

Congress Center and Offices, Cité Internationale in Lyon, France. Renzo Piano, architect. 1996
Renzo Piano, architect. 1996 Congress Center and Offices, Cité Internationale in Lyon, France. Renzo Piano, Pritzker Prize-winning architect. 1996. Photo © M. Denancé, courtesy the Pritzker Prize Committee

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano designs "High-Tech" buildings that showcase technological shapes and materials.

10
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Reconstruction of the Atelier Brancusi in Paris, France

Reconstruction of the Atelier Brancusi in Paris, France. Renzo Piano, architect. 1997
Renzo Piano, architect. 1997 Reconstruction of the Atelier Brancusi in Paris, France. Renzo Piano, Pritzker Prize-winning architect. 1997. Photo © M. Denancé, courtesy the Pritzker Prize Committee

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano designs "High-Tech" buildings that showcase technological shapes and materials.

11
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Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Nouméa, New Caledonia

Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Nouméa, New Caledonia. Renzo Piano, architect. 1998
Renzo Piano, architect. 1998 Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Nouméa, New Caledonia. Renzo Piano, Pritzker Prize-winning architect. 1998. Photo © Gollings, courtesy the Pritzker Prize Committee

The Renzo Piano Workshop won an international competition to design the Tjibaou Cultural Center in Noumea, a Pacific island territory in New Caledonia.

The French government wanted to build a center in this Pacific Island colony to honor the culture of the Kanak peoples. Renzo Piano's design called for ten cone-shaped wooden huts grouped among the pine trees.

Critics praise the center for drawing on ancient building customs without creating overly romanticized imitations of native architecture. The tall wooden structures that Renzo Piano designed are both traditional and contemporary. Adjustable skylights on the roofs allow for natural climate control and the soothing sounds of Pacific breezes.

The center is named after Jean-Marie Tjibaou, an important political leader in New Caledonia who was assassinated in 1989.

12
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The New York Times Building

The New York Times Building. Renzo Piano, architect. 2007. Modern skyscraper in New York City
Renzo Piano, 2007, New York City The New York Times Building. Renzo Piano, architect. 2007. Photo by Barry Winiker/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Working in association with FXFOWLE Architects, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano designed a 52-story tower high on energy efficiency.

How do you get to the top at The New York Times? Ask French climber Alain Robert. Shortly after the New York City skyscraper opened, Robert climbed the exterior curtain wall, using each horizontally placed ceramic rod to inch his way to the top. The architect designed the rods as a sun shade for temperature control. The "French Spiderman" found a different use, and showed other copycat climbers how it was done.

About The New York Times Building:

Other Names: New York Times Tower
Location: Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets, Midtown West, New York City - directly across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT)
Construction Period: 2004-2007
Architect: Renzo Piano
Stories: 52
Architectural Height: 1,046 feet
Size: 1.5-million square feet
Double Facade: Clear glass overlaid with 186,000 ceramic rods, each 4 feet 10 inches long, attached horizontally to create a "ceramic sunscreen curtain wall"
The Times Center: 378-seat auditorium / performance space
Lobby: Features a "Moveable Type" text collage with 560 ever-changing digital-display screens

Energy-efficient features include:

  • a dimmable lighting system
  • floor-to-ceiling ultra-clear, low-iron glass that maximizes light
  • horizontal ceramic rods on the exterior of the building that act as a sunshade
  • interior glass-walled garden with 50-foot birch trees
  • more than 95% of the structural steel is recycled

In the Words of Renzo Piano:

"I love the city and I wanted this building to be an expression of that. I wanted a transparent relationship between the street and the building. From the street, you can see through the whole building. Nothing is hidden. And like the city itself, the building will catch the light and change color with the weather. Bluish after a shower, and in the evening on a sunny day, shimmering red. The story of this building is one of lightness and transparency."

How big is the sign on the NYT Building?

A thousand pieces of dark aluminum are individually attached to the ceramic rods to create the iconic typography. How big is the name?

  • Length: 110 feet (33.5 meters)
  • Height: 15 feet (4.6 meters)

Learn More About the New York Times Building:

Sources: New York Times Tower, EMPORIS; New York Times Press Release, November 19, 2007 (PDF) [accessed June 30, 2014]

13
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California Academy of Sciences

The Green Roof atop the California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA
Renzo Piano, architect. 2008 The Green Roof atop the California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA. Photo by Barry Winiker/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Renzo Piano merged architecture with nature when he designed a green roof for the California Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

The California Academy of Sciences is a masterpiece of green design that displays nature and is also part of nature. Italian architect Renzo Piano gave the museum a roof made of rolling earth planted with more than 1.7 million plants from nine different native species. The green roof provides a natural habitat for wildlife and endangered species like the San Bruno butterfly.

Below one of the earthen mounds is a 4 story re-created rain forest. Motorized porthole windows in the 90 foot dome in the roof provide light and ventilation. Beneath the other roof mound is a planetarium, and, forever Italian in nature, an open air piazza is located in the center of the building. Louvers above the piazza are temperature-controlled to open and close based on interior temperatures. Ultra-clear, low-iron content glass panels in the lobby and open exhibit rooms offer sweeping views of the natural surroundings. Natural light is available to 90% of the administrative offices.

Renzo Piano's green roof cuts the building's energy needs by about a third. The mound construction, not often seen on living roof systems, allows the easy capture of rainwater runoff. The steep slope is also used to funnel cool air into the interior spaces below. Surrounding the green roof are 60,000 photovoltaic cells, described as "a decorative band." Visitors are allowed on the roof to observe from a special viewing area, which you can see in the photograph above. Generating electricity, using six inches of roof soil as natural insulation, radiant hot water heating in the floors, and operable skylights provide efficiency in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system of the building.

More Sustainability Facts:

Sustainability is not just building with green roofs and solar power. Constructing with local, recycled materials saves energy for the entire planet Earth. The architects of the California Academy of Sciences also:

  • recycled 90% of the demolition debris
  • applied 32,000 tons of excavated sand to local dune restoration projects
  • constructed with steel from recycled sources (95% of all steel)
  • constructed with timber harvested from sustainable-yield forests (50% of all lumber)
  • used recycled blue jeans for 68% of the building's insulation
  • received LEED Certification at the Platinum level, the highest level, by the U.S. Green Building Council (October 7, 2008)

Recycled Blue Jeans for Insulation? Why?

"Recycled denim insulation holds more heat and absorbs sound better than spun fiberglass insulation. It is also safer to handle. Even when denim insulation is treated with fire retardants and fungicides to prevent mildew, it is still easier to work with and doesn't require installers to wear protective clothing or respirators."

Learn More About This Building:

Source: Sustainable Design at www.calacademy.org/academy/building/sustainable_design/, CAS website [accessed June 30, 2014]

14
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The Shard, London

Photo of skyscraper under construction, viewing interior apartments being covered with glass facade
Renzo Piano, architect. 2012 The Shard Under Construction in London, 2011. Photo ©Duncan Harris, CC BY 2.0 at flickr.com

In 2012, the Shard became the tallest building in the United Kingdom—and in western Europe.

A Vertical City:

Architect Renzo Piano has created a glass "shard" on the banks of the Thames River in London. Behind the glass wall are a mix of residential and commercial properties: apartments, restaurants, hotels, and opportunities for tourists to observe miles of the English landscape. Heat absorbed from the glass and generated from the commercial areas will be recycled to heat the residential areas.

"This is my vision," said the architect. "I foresee the tower as a vertical city, for thousands of people to work in and enjoy, and for millions to take to their heart."

The Shard in 2012 >>

Source: The Shard website at the-shard.com

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Craven, Jackie. "Renzo Piano Portfolio of Buildings and Projects." ThoughtCo, Jul. 22, 2016, thoughtco.com/renzo-piano-portfolio-buildings-and-projects-4065289. Craven, Jackie. (2016, July 22). Renzo Piano Portfolio of Buildings and Projects. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/renzo-piano-portfolio-buildings-and-projects-4065289 Craven, Jackie. "Renzo Piano Portfolio of Buildings and Projects." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/renzo-piano-portfolio-buildings-and-projects-4065289 (accessed November 24, 2017).