Architecture is an important part of man’s contribution to the built environment and several styels have developed over the years. There have been several architects who have contributed important and crucial public buildings over the years but nobody has come to the forefront of such styles as Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers or perhaps, Norman Foster.
After World War II, the new style of “High-tech” architecture was born. Two brilliant well-known architects of this time period are Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. These architects incorporated elements of high tech industry and advanced structural technology into their building designs. The Pritzker prize (the Nobel Prize of Architecture) was awarded to both of them after their most well-known collaboration, the Georges Center Pompidou in Paris, in 1977. Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers create high-tech architecture that is highly influenced by technology and challenging the norm. However, Rogers focuses on the raw and functionality of industrial materials, whereas Piano focuses on the experimental creation of spatiality and working in workshops to produce his designs.
Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano are two of the most famous architects in the world; they have decorated the planet with several unique buildings. Some of the high-tech architecture from Rogers that can still be seen today are his pre-fab houses, Lloyds of London, and the Millennium Dome; With Piano’s work being the Jello Piano watch, the “Modern Wing” of the Art Institute of Chicago, and The Shard. The controversial project that they both shared the fame and fortune from is the Centre Georges Pompidou. Although they worked together on some projects in the past, they have diverged considerable in the last few decades in their methods of design. Rogers prefers working on commercial and large scale projects while Piano concentrates on more small scale and simpler buildings.
For most people, the first thing that catches their eyes when they see high tech architecture is the heavy use of industrial materials, steel and glass. High-tech architecture has a noticeable contrast against the normal exterior concrete walls of the past, because it has a visual emphasis placed on the internal steel components the style is intertwined with what is called the Second School of Chicago which unveiled after World War II (Powell, 2006). The industrial look rose from the increase use of technology in households and the belief that technology was the key to the future.
Renzo Piano was born in Genoa, Italy in 1937. According to Time Magazine, he is the 10th most influential people in the art and architecture community. Since 1989, he has won 9 awards in addition to the Pritzker prize. Piano has finished 36 projects since 1971. Smithsonian magazine says,” “Concentrating on open-plan designs and natural lighting effects, Piano has experimented with wood, stone, glass, terra-cotta and other traditional building materials in thoroughly modern and unexpected ways, gaining international recognition for his innovative, hands-on style, playful shock effects and dedication to lightness” (Covington, 1999). Renzo achieves this level of recognition by focusing his designs around five elements: water, natural light, air, sound, and greenery (Pizzi, 2003). When Renzo was a young architect he thought in terms of putting things together, but realized soon after that it was much more than that, it’s more about the organic, illusions, a sense of memory, and textural approach to design (Martin, 2006). This led him to a hands-on approach and experimenting with these material elements. This makes Piano’s approach to design unique to High-tech Architecture. He started a workshop where he and 100 other employees collaborate as a team; this is a big different than Richard Rogers approach.
Richard Rogers was born in Florence, Italy in 1933. He is noted for his modernist and functionalist designs. Rogers has won four other awards than the Pritzker prize as well as many honors. “Loose-fit, long-life, low energy” are the main focus and approach that Rogers takes to design his radical architecture. A freedom from prescribed custom, exploitation and environmental potential are the ingredients that power his solutions to his functional and socially centered designs. Roger says that a building that is easy to modify has a longer useful life and uses its resources more efficiently (Rogers, 1996).This is why Rogers approach to design is more about functionality and efficiency, rather than the aesthetic quality of a space. So-and-so says,
” Despite the declared integrity and autonomy of the design process, a Roger’s building is always recognizable. It has clearly identifiable, highly articulated formal characteristics. There is a hierarchy of vertical and horizontal elements. The materials and detailing provide grain and scale. The structure and services are often, but not always, exposed. The entrance is given priority and emphasis. The public areas are transparent and legible. Circulation is clear: Internal functions are expressed on the exterior. There is an obvious distinction between public and private, between served and servant areas, between primary and support spaces. These are the elements of a formal and aesthetic language that transcends the exigencies of site, environment, context, and brief” (Rogers, 1996).
Rogers continued practicing and designed a studio for Humphrey Spender in the village of Maldon in Essex, London. The design was of a glass cube that was framed by repetitive beams. This led him to experiment further using pre-fabricated and pre-stressed concrete in the design of a house in Wimbledon that was exclusively designed for his parents. In this, and in other structure, Rogers began using components that were based on panels, which results in buildings that are energy efficient to construct-a concept that was very advanced for its time.
Another landmark of Rogers that used High-tech architectural language was the Lloyds Building in London. This was completed in 1986 and although it was also very unpopular initially because the stairs were uncommonly placed and other aspects of the design being exposed on the exterior of the building when they are normally considered as an interior design feature. However, it has now become accepted as one of the most desirable London landmarks
Some of Rogers’ most important architectural work has come from several papers and books that he wrote in recent years. In 1998, Rogers was asked by the British government to set up a Task Force to examine the root causes of decay in several cities as well as to come up with proposals that identified the principle causes of urban decline as well as the vitality and safety of British cities. This was called, ‘Towards an Urban Renaissance’ and there are more than 100 detailed recommendations suggested for designers for the development of future cities. Rogers also served for a long number of years as the chairman of the Architecture and Urbanism Panel of the Greater London Authority, as well as chair of the board of Trustees of The Architecture Foundation – an important organization in the thought processes for international architecture practices.
Piano began influencing the architectural world more considerably when he founded the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in Genoa, Rome, and New York, a cutting edge architectural practice that focuses on the hands-on aspects of the design process. One of the group’s most prestigious commissions was for the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome that was inaugurated in 2002. This is a large and multi-functional complex that was placed in Rome and features several of Piano’s most advanced and original work.
Besides designing architecture, Piano designed the ‘Jelly Piano’ which is a model that shows the inner workings of a watch, very similar to the way in which the Pompidou Centre exposes its inner workings. This idea of exposing the inner workings became a new visual for the public. Piano’s work has also taken him as far afield as Japan where he designed the fantastic Maison Hermes store located in Ginza, Tokyo which was built to look like a traditional Chinese lantern. This huge edifice is no less than one hundred forty seven feet tall and is thirty six feet wide. It is probably one of the most iconic skyscrapers on the Tokyo skyline.
Piano has achieved substantial recognition for his work in several European cities that have experienced heavy losses due to bombing. He was involved in regeneration projects to help restore the cities and he was successful because of his high-tech style which brings people together.
One of Renzo Piano’s iconic landmarks is the expansion of the Art Institute of Chicago, where a new wing measuring 520 square feet called the Modern Wing was opened on May 16, 2009. The most innovative features in this new expansion is a sunscreen that has been variously described as a ‘flying carpet’, that hovers above a roof and connects to a massive 620 foot steel bridge which is also connected to Millennium Park, and then terminating at a restaurant. Here one can observe the innovation of Piano’s designs especially in the way all three structures interact and are seamlessly connected together, something that is similar to Rogers’ designs (Ourossoff, 2009).
One of the most significant projects designed by Piano is The Shard which has the dubious accolade of being Europe’s tallest skyscraper. This was opened in July 2012 and features several high-tech features, the exterior is constructed entirely out of glass that reaffirms its iconic imagery. The Shard demonstrates Piano’s preoccupation with the pyramid style and stands at over 984 feet tall. The building was allegedly inspired by railway lines. Church spires, sailing masts, and other similar geometrical objects. This structure demonstrates the differences between Piano’s style and Rogers’s style, especially in the Millennium Dome.
The iconic building in the heart of Paris remains the most important collaboration between Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano. The project was one of the first ever awarded after an international competition to choose its designers, in fact Piano’s and Rogers’ design was chosen by a three judge panel consisting of Jean Prouve’, Philip Johnson and Oscar Niemeyer. Initial reactions to the building when it opened in 1977 were rather negative with the fabled newspaper Le Figaro publishing an article stating that Paris now had a monster that was similar to Scotland’s Loch Ness. However, the Centre has improved its image with age and the revolutionary work carried out by both architects has come up for considerable critical acclaim. The Centre was described as having turned the world of architecture upside down and that it had revolutionized the way we look at museums since the building was so different as well as being modern. One of the most innovative aspects of the Centre was that the functional and structural elements of the building were color coded. Plumbing pipes were painted green while there were blue ducts for climate control and the electrical wiring was encased in yellow colored piping. The building cost almost one billion French Francs to complete in 1972 terms and it has recently undergone a renovation worth almost half a billion francs between October 1996 to January 2000. The iconoclastic design reveals the different styles of Piano and Rogers although at the end of the day, these styles combined very successfully in the Centre’s eventual construction (Architecture of the Building. 2012).
A mix between Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers can be seen in the Center Georges Pompidou. Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers have worked on and completed five projects together since 1969. Their most famous of the five was the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris, France. This building was to accommodate all people, old and young, from all over the world.
Roger’s first big breakthrough came when he began his celebrated partnership with the Italian architect Renzo Piano. Their landmark project began in 1971 when Piano, and Rogers won a design competition for the Centre Pompidou to be built in Paris, France. Here, Rogers came up with the modernist concept of exposing most of the building’s service effects (such as heating, water and ventilation ducts) on the outside, thus leaving the interior of the building completely free of any beams. This maximized the interior space and was flexible for any artistic exhibitions. This style has been described in several ways but is usually known as High-tech ,or Bowellism by some art critics. Although the style was not seen as very popular when the building was opened in 1977, the Centre is now a very important landmark in Paris
Although Rogers and Piano collaborated on the Georges Pompidou Arts Centre, their styles are very different. Rogers is more of a functional architect, Piano goes for the beauty of form and prefers symmetrical structures with a classic example being the Shard in Central London. The functionality of Rogers can be seen in the Millennium Dome, where form meets clarity and purpose and where the differences with Piano’s more molecular style can easily be observed.
Renzo Piano has not stopped with the Shard either. His firm is currently working on a residential tower close the landmark building whilst another highly prestigious project is the extension of the Monaco marina, a project that will test the Italian architect’s innovative style to the full. Rogers is slightly less active of late, he is mostly concerned with giving lectures and writing books at the moment. Both architects continue to be extremely influential in all areas of the built environment around the world.
- Covington, R.. (1999, June). Retrieved Feb. 26, 2014, from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts culture/the-incredible-lightness-of-being-renzo-piano-67668888/?no-ist
- Martin, L.. (2006, Jan. 16). Retrieved Feb. 26, 2014, from http://archinect.com/features/article/31565/renzo-piano
- Pizzi, E. & Piano, R. (2003). Renzo Piano. Basel London: Birkhäuser Momenta.
- Powell, K., Torday, R. & Rogers, R. (2006). Richard Rogers: architecture of the future. Basel Boston, MA: Birkhäuser.
- Rogers, R. & Burdett, R. (1996). Richard Rogers : partnership : works and projects. New York: Monacelli Press.
- Ouroussof, Nicolai (May 13, 2009). "Renzo Piano Embraces Chicago". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-13.
- "The 2006 Time 100". Time. 8 May 2006.
- Daniela Bosia (2013). L'opera di Giuseppe Ciribini. Milan: Franco Angeli. p. 15. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
- "Renzo Piano: Environmentally Progressive Concept Design for Athens' Modern Urban Icon, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC)". 2009-01-27. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- "Renzo Piano Building Workshop website". Rpbw.com. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- "Official Swatch Website - Swatch International". Swatch.com. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- "Richard Rogers". Press Release CV. Richard Rogers Partnerships. Retrieved 31 July 2006.
- Ian Lambot (Ed.), "Norman Foster: Buildings and Projects Volume 1 1964–1973", Watermark Publications (1991), pp. 14–15, ISBN 1-873200-01-3.
- "Richard Rogers + Architects – From the House to the City". Design Museum. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
- "Richard Rogers, Pritzker Speech". Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
- "Richard Rogers: Beginnings". Pompidou Centre. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
- "Architecture of the Building". Centre Pompidou website. Retrieved 3 July 2012.