Knowing how to do things not just with the head, but with the hands as well: this might seem a programmatic and ideological goal. It is not. It is a way of safeguarding creative freedom.
In collaboration with Fondazione Renzo Piano, Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present “Fragments,” an exhibition of more than thirty years of architectural projects by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. The exhibition has been generously supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
Equal parts library reading room, school classroom, and natural history gallery, the exhibition consists of twenty-four tabletop displays of scale models, drawings, photographs, and video. Each tells the involved, inspiring story of the design process of a single building, from museums, libraries, and airports to private residences. Among these projects are Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Menil Collection, Houston; Kansai International Airport, Osaka; Fondation Beyeler, Basel; Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center, Nouméa, New Caledonia; The New York Times Building, New York; Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Athens; and the Whitney Museum’s new building in downtown Manhattan. A complete list and description of all exhibited projects will be available at the exhibition.
Born into a family of builders, Piano connects his coastal upbringing in Genoa to the evolution of certain constants in his architecture: an obsession with light and its effect on the dynamic potential of built space. He formed the Piano & Rogers Atelier with Richard Rogers in 1971. The same year, the London-based studio won the commission for the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris—an audacious challenge that transformed the academic idea of the museum into a highly flexible toolbox building, with all technical functions fully exposed. Since then, Piano has become the most sought-after museum architect in the world for his ability to harmonize buildings with their surroundings and the artworks exhibited within them. Innovative technologies enhance these highly functional spaces, but succumb visually to the serene formal neutrality, guided by natural light, for which the Building Workshop is known—which Piano refers to as “the immaterial elements of space.” The exhibition is a window onto the daily studio practice at the core of Piano’s ongoing legacy, demonstrating the passion for innovative thinking and construction that fuels the Workshop’s ongoing success.
Renzo Piano was born in Genoa, Italy in 1937. He founded the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in 1981. Today, a team of approximately 150 people work with the Italian architect at his Paris, Genoa, and New York offices. The firm has become renowned for some of the most innovative architectural projects of the past three decades.
The Fondazione Renzo Piano, a non-profit organization, was established in Genoa in 2004. It has two main areas of focus: the conservation of materials related to Piano’s work, and education in the form of the sponsoring of an apprenticeship program for select students at Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
Five gallery talks will be given by architects from the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in June and July. Priority will be given to architecture and design students on a first-come, first-served basis; space is limited and RSVP is required.