“The architect cannot change the world, only materialise its changes. I prefer to do public projects, because they make the city. Places of acquaintance make people more curious and the city better.”

Renzo Piano

Renzo Piano is not only an ingenious architect, but also a man who understands that making buildings is about far more than artful design and quality construction. According to Piano, it is about “making a place for people to come together and share values.” Piano, despite having won every award imaginable, remains humble. He doesn’t claim to be an academic or intellectual marvel, he simply likes to build, and for this, I both admire and identify with him. 

Still, Piano’s creations deserve recognition; I consider him to be one of the greatest architects of our time. He has designed museums, airports, cultural centers, civic buildings, skyscrapers and entire sections of cities. Though he does not claim a fixed style, preferring instead to think of each building as an “exploration,” it can be said that all of his work is imaginative. Design is an adventure, Piano says, an adventure into “unchartered architectural currents.”  

Originally from Genoa, Italy, Piano was born into a family of builders which certainly influenced his decision to study architecture at the renowned Milan Polytechnic University. After graduating, he taught at the university and worked in two different large firms before striking out on his own, forming a partnership with Richard Rogers. Piano’s first international commission was for the Pavilion of Italian Industry for Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan, and from that point his career took off. Since then, Piano has designed a multitude of architectural masterpieces, with his most recognized works being the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, The Shard in London, Kansai International Airport in Osaka, and the Modern Art Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago.