Renzo Piano, Ufficiale OMRI (born 14 September 1937 in Genoa) is an Italian Pritzker Prize-winning architect. Architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff said of Piano's works that the "...serenity of his best buildings can almost make you believe that we live in a civilized world."
In 2006, Piano was selected by TIME as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was selected as the 10th most influential person in the "Arts and Entertainment" category of the 2006 Time 100.
Piano was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1937 into a family of builders. He was educated and subsequently taught at the Politecnico di Milano. He graduated from the University in 1964 and began working with experimental lightweight structures and basic shelters. From 1965 to 1970 he worked with Louis Kahn and Z.S. Makowsky. He worked together with Richard Rogers from 1971 to 1977; their most famous joint project is the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1977). He also had a long collaboration with the engineer Peter Rice, with whom he shared a practice (L'Atelier Piano and Rice) between 1977 and 1981.
In 1981, Piano founded the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which today employs 150 people and maintains offices in Paris, Genoa, and New York.
In 1999, Piano designed a watch entitled "Jelly Piano (GZ159)" for the Swatch Summer Collection. The watch design is clear and the exposed inner workings were influenced by his Centre Georges Pompidou design.
On 18 March 2008, he became an honorary citizen of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Piano's recent expansion of the Art Institute of Chicago includes a 264,000-square-foot (24,500 m2) wing with 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) of gallery space called the Modern Wing, which opened on 16 May 2009. It includes a "flying carpet", a sunscreen that hovers above the roof and a 620-foot (190 m) steel bridge connecting Millennium Park to a sculpture terrace that leads into a restaurant on the wing’s third floor.
One of Renzo Piano's most controversial projects is The Shard, close to London Bridge. He compared his design to "a shard of glass". He considered the slender, spire-like form of the tower a positive addition to the London skyline, recalling the church steeples featured in historic engravings of the city,and believed that its presence would be far more delicate than opponents of the project alleged. He proposed a sophisticated use of glazing, with expressive façades of angled glass panes intended to reflect sunlight and the sky above, so that the appearance of the building will change according to the weather and seasons.
Following the destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) in September 2001, architects and structural engineers worldwide began re-evaluating the design of tall structures. The Shard’s early conceptual designs were among the first in the UK to be progressed following the publication of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report into the WTC collapse. The building was designed to maintain its stability under the most onerous conditions.
The completed Shard will contain premium office space, a hotel, luxury residences, retail space, restaurants, a 15-storey public viewing gallery, and a spa. A public viewing gallery will be located at the top of the tower, and is expected to draw over two million visitors a year. In addition, a shorter building, known as London Bridge Place, will be built nearby. This will replace the current London Bridge House, and the combined sites will create what will be known as the London Bridge Quarter.
In addition to the tower, there will be major improvements made to the London Bridge rail and Tube station and the surrounding area. As part of a Section 106 legal agreement, these improvements will include a new public concourse, as well as a public piazza, a museum, and local housing and regeneration programmes. In May 2012, the Shard's developers pledged to offer 300 jobs in the tower and its environs for unemployed locals.