-By Jordan Manglona, Contributing Writer
In celebration of Renzo Piano, the famous Italian architect, noted for his work on buildings such as the New York Times Building, a panel of experts met on the seventh floor of University Hall on Sept. 26.
Teresa Fiore, the holder of the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, opened the event with a few introductory remarks and a short PBS video entitled “The Art and Science of Renzo Piano.” Fiore’s brief but endearing introduction informed the attendees of the event of some key highlights of Piano.
The first speaker was the very prominent architecture critic, Dr. Martin Filler. Filler is a Columbia University graduate, and the author of the extensively-praised Makers of Modern Architecture, a two-volume collection of writings on modern architecture that includes essays devoted to the works of Renzo Piano.
Filler discussed the wide-range influence that Piano had over the architectural world and the world in general, calling him a true gentleman of architecture.
Students in attendance were impressed with Piano’s unique architecture. Gabrille Grudza, a junior Italian major, said, “When you see how modern their buildings are, it’s really cool how someone can think of designs like that and still make it so unique.”
Renzo Piano is a profoundly international architect. He is the architect that gave the world the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Shard in England and the New York Times Building in Manhattan. Piano is a renown Italian Pritzker Prize-winner.
“A site is a place where a lot of sand becomes, the next day, something built. It is a place of magic. So I, for some reason, I have that under my skin,”
Piano said in the introductor video.
Malinda Parada, a junior psychology major, said, “In terms of Manhattanizing, like Frampton said, I think Piano’s take is a little more personalized in the way he wants to follow traditional rules of architecture, but he also wants to put his own spin on it to make it his own thing.”
“Dynamic” is another word Fuller used to describe Piano, who always had the ability and sophistication to design smaller scale projects such as the Morgan Library in New York and switch to design towering skyscrapers such as the Shard in London.
Filler praised Piano’s ability to jump from the intimate to massive scales in his work. Filler described the Shard as holding extraordinary lightness and transparency. However, he had a few qualms with Piano’s Morgan Library and the New York Times Building.
Not all opinions were dissenting in regards to Piano’s design of the Times building. Unlike Filler, Professor Kenneth Frampton, a British architect, historian and critic admired the design of the Times Building and the Morgan Library.
Frampton offered the idea that the world was “Manhattanizing,” or becoming more uniformed, less original, and more for the money and not the creative dividends.
Filler discussed the structure and design of these buildings in great detail, going over the specifications of Bari Stadium and Tjibaou Centre.
The last guest to speak was Dr. Giovanni Santamaria, who earned a degree in architecture from Iuav in Venice. He has written a variety of essays published in architecture magazines and books. He presented a presentation titled “Tekné and Poiesis: The Place between Groundscape and Roofscape,” in which he showed the synthesis of traditional and contemporary architecture.
Piano has had a long career which is far from over. He has had a big hand in furniture and industrial design.
He has never skipped the one month vacation he takes on his self-designed boat, the Kirribilli. A man that truly values a hard day’s work also appreciates time away from it.