About the Architect

Whitney Museum of American Art
Whitney Museum of American Art Photo courtesy of RPBW

Renzo Piano, winner of architecture’s most prestigious prizes and creator of masterpiece buildings on five continents, is the architect behind the design of the SNF Agora Institute building.

The 81-year-old Italian architect’s career is the subject of a retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. His best-known buildings include the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris, the Shard in London and the new Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Piano is deeply committed to sustainable architecture and envisions the SNF Agora Institute building as qualifying for LEED “green building” certification.

SNF cultural center
SNF Cultural Center
Photo courtesy of RPBW

Piano’s more than four-decade career includes both intimate and monumental-scale structures, the latter represented by such projects as Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan; the Aurora Place towers in Sydney, Australia; and the New York Times Building in New York. His museums include the Menil Collection in Houston, the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo, the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, and Zentrum Paul Klee in Switzerland. He has also designed a wing of the Art Institute of Chicago and expansions of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, and the Morgan Library in New York.

Piano has built acclaimed concert halls and theaters in Italy, mixed-use office towers and residential developments in the United Kingdom, a courthouse in Paris, a private home in Colorado, and the City Gate and Parliament on Malta. He and his colleagues created the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens and another cultural center, for indigenous people, in New Caledonia in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Construction of a children’s surgical hospital is underway in Entebbe, Uganda.

New York Times Building
New York Times Building
Photo courtesy of RPBW

In 1998, he received the Pritzker Prize, commonly regarded as architecture’s most important award. The jury’s citation compared his “intellectual curiosity and problem-solving techniques” to those of two “earlier masters of his native land, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.” He has received the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, the Kyoto Prize, the Praemium Imperiale and the Sonning Prize. He is a former UNESCO goodwill ambassador.

On Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, Piano sat down for a conversation about his design vision and philosophy with JHU President Ronald J. Daniels in front of a capacity crowd at Mason Hall. He said principles of openness, accessibility, and harmony with nature will guide him as he designs the SNF Agora Institute building.