Friday, November 04, 2005

Renzo Piano's Talk

Yesterday, thanks to my good friend Young Mi, me and Lorenzo had the opportunity to attend a talk by famed architect Renzo Piano.

The talk was part of a Renzo Piano Workshop that is being conducted at the new Atlanta High Musem of Art, which in itself was designed by Renzo Piano. I did not imagine that many folks would attend - but I was blown away by the crowd. More than 2,000 people had gathered in the new Atlanta Symphony Hall to hear the man speak. And after his talk, I understood why. That man is a sheer genius! Some of his works are so mind-boggling that it's almost unbelievable.
For instance, he was the architect behind the Kansai International Airport in Japan - which is built on an artificial island and is the world's longest building at 1.7 kms. Better yet, he designed the whole thing amidst several earthquakes and the whole structure is built to withstand any but some of the world's biggest (and worst) quakes and tsunamis. And unlike a lot of architects who tout the aesthetics-sans-construction-and-engineering bullshit, Renzo Piano's father was a builder - so, all his works are not only aesthetically pleasing, they're also feasible works of engineering that are structurally sound. Atlanta was fortunate enough to have him design the new Woodruff Arts Center Expansion project, and his work is most stunning. He made one of the most insightful statements I've ever heard - he felt that he shouldn't be asked to design a building, but rather a place. If you build a building alone, then it doesn't become a place - making a place with just a building is an architectural challenge. And of course, one but needs to look at the new Woodruff Arts Center and its surrounding area to know that Renzo Piano has been successful. Some of his other projects, such as the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center in New Zealand, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and of course the famous Postdamer Platz in Berlin are equally amazing. His talk also included some interesting material on his latest project, The New York Times Building in NYC. I can't even begin to describe the genius of the man without making myself sound like a complete fool. It was probably one of the better used two hours of my life, ever! (On a related note, there is some excellent HCI related software opportunity in the area of Architecture - for more information on that, stay tuned - same bat channel, same bat time!)