Renzo Piano is better than you – and reasons you should think so, too
Renzo Piano has long been my favorite architect. He’s Italian (everything from Italy is better), he pushes the envelope when it comes to designing awesome stuff, he’s cutting edge…he’s pretty much everything an architect should want to be.
The number one reason why Renzo piano is better than you: he designs buildings that respond to their context; specifically, he pays attention to the geographical location, the social and cultural significance, and the material choice’s relationship to all of these. Don’t agree? Let’s dissect the works of other starchitects and see how they measure up against Renzo:
Frank Gehry? Regurgitation after regurgitation. Yes, these are all different buildings located throughout the world:
And Vanity Fair said he was one of “the most important architects of our time”? Really? (Not that we should trust their opinion anyway…) While I’m on my “I hate Frank Gehry” rant, has anyone actually been inside his buildings? For the ones I’ve visited, the attention to detail was non-existent. It’s as if he crumpled up his signature sketch, and had the intern come and make it into a building (no offense, interns). I can appreciate his buildings from about 100 yards away, but any closer than that and I’m distracted by all of the awkward glass-to-metal intersections, ill-placed exit signs and vertigo inducing ceilings. Observe:
From 100 yards, approaching the Guggenheim in Bilbao: “Omg! It’s the Guggenheim! So much amazing-ness! I’m so excitaaaaad!!”
A closer inspection reveals significantly less awesomeness:
“oh Dear Lord, what happened?! They either ran out of funding for the last office, or someone overshot the dimensions between connections.”
Who does that??? I mean, we’re outside – why do you need glass there? And why make it such a pain for the contractors to build when it adds nothing to the building? Maybe it’s a shield from the metal’s death rays? Who knows.
Enough about Frank Gehry (I could go on, but I digress). On to Richard Meier! He really likes white. And white, with more white. Anyone else longing to see some color?
I do enjoy his buildings, but seriously, I think using a different material would be refreshing (and slightly off-white materials don’t count).
How about Daniel Libeskind’s buildings? I feel that they want to cut me.
What’s up with Zaha Hadid? Swoopey line drawing buildings. That is all.
How about that Tadao Ando and his love for concrete? I can’t blame him, really – who hasn’t been drawn to the smooth, silky concrete and felt it up a bit? But seriously, I think he’s mastered this material…time to try something new.
Steven Holl in a nutshell: He likes to cut out shapes
from a planar surfaces. I’m surprised he hasn’t made a pop-up building yet.
Though visually interesting, what does it add beyond novelty? (The storefront is pretty sweet, but I’d like to see something fresh)
Is anyone else sensing a pattern with these architects?
Each one has a distinct style, whether through their form, material choice or how they manipulate said materials. You can tell who designed it just by looking at the color or material.
What is the first rule you learn in architecture? That every building is unique and demands a new strategy – in form, in function, in systems, in details. Why is it that all of these famous architects stick to one style over and over? Now let’s compare them all to Renzo Piano:
Marie Tjibaou cultural center – New Caledonia. A cultural center that – GASP – relates to the culture! Who knew!?
The Pompidou Centre- pushing the boundaries of what a building is, how it performs and how it relates to the society around it. I could go on with theory, but that would be too predictable!
How about some art museums? These are located in Texas, but they don’t look the same. Each one has a different roof system that allows natural light in. They’re delicate and unassuming – not screaming for attention or making a huge statement.
Shall we look at some of his music halls?
Parco della musica – these things are so gritty and industrial (and they look like giant armadillos – which is pretty cool, imo). Go to Rome and you’ll understand why he chose these materials. (Rome is a gritty, dirty city – enjoyable, but raw. Someone should tell people that defacing the pantheon with graffiti is generally regarded as a bad thing)
Auditorium Paganini – another music hall but completely different from the one in rome. Reuse of an old factory in a beautifully creative way. (and he had to make the acoustics work with two glass walls…I’d like to see you do that. One more reason he’s better than you.)
I think I’ve joined the ranks of the starchitects and beat this one to death. So, now that we’ve concluded that Renzo is better than you, we can move on with our lives. Don’t you feel better now? I know I do! Next time you see an awesome building you can’t quite assign to a specific architect, know that it’s because Renzo designed it. He has his own category: Better than you.
Written by: Brinn Miracle