i-ItalyNY - 5thBirthday Special Issue. The Best of i-Itay - page 35

Special Issue | Winter 2017-2018 |
i-Italy Magazine
| 35
Stefano Albertini interviews Renzo Piano at his
office in Manhattan, just steps away from the
new Withney Museum (below)
by
Stefano Albertini*
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Let’s start with the Whitney.
It was just inaugurated this
morning with a much anticipated,
very crowded event. How do you
feel now that it’s over?
This morning was, as usual, difficult.
When you finish a job as an architect,
it’s very nice but it’s also sad, because
you feel a little like a father or amoth-
er when your child goes away. Until
this morning that building belonged
to thepeoplemaking thebuilding: ar-
chitects, engineers, builders. Andnow
it belongs to the rest of theworld. The
building is really a new space for the
people. I don’t even call the lobby a
lobby; I call it a piazza. It’s like a piaz-
za, a
largo
, the Italianword for abroad
street. A piazza is a nice concept be-
cause that’s where everything begins.
It’s a concept lacking in American
cities.
I don’t know if it’s lackinghere, but it’s
certainly a very strong Italian, Euro-
pean idea. It’s a part of Europe’s his-
tory and it’s a place where diversity is
valued. The piazza is about tolerance
and coexistence. But when you’re
constructing a building, you have
to be careful not to put the building
right there, on the ground. If you set
it on the ground then there’s no place
left. This building flies.Well, it doesn’t
actually fly – especially not a building
that weighs 28,000 tons. But it goes
“boing,” it levitates. The reasoning be-
hind that isn’t aesthetic;wewanted to
make the building accessible. Socially
speaking, you need to give the city its
space. The building isn’t intimidat-
ing. It welcomes everybody, just like
a piazza.
What about having terraces on the
different floorsof thebuilding?Are
they part of the same concept?
The building actually stretches east
toward the city. I wanted the build-
ing to flirt with New York. The ter-
races are really a place to enjoy life,
to loiter, to take your time as you
wander up anddown the building. So
the terraces were placed on the east
side, where the sun comes up, where
the city is. The other side is the op-
posite. The building is talking to the
highway. That’s good; the city ismov-
ing. And then you have the river, the
Renzo Piano is probably the most prominent and popular
architect in the world, even if I hesitate to call him an
architect tout court; that would limit the scope of what
he does. He is actually reshaping New York City more
than any other architect alive today. His buildings include
the New York Times office, the renovated Morgan
Library, theWhitney, and a very important project
currently underway for Columbia University. We met him
just after the inauguration of the newWhitney Museum,
right across the street from his studio here in New York…
The ItalianWho Is
ReshapingNewYork
StefanoAbertini and
RenzoPiano on i-ItalyTV
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Italian Design. THE LEADER (SUMMER 2015)
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