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Architecture

An Eye for Architecture

As Renzo Piano turns 80, we present a look at how his architectural landmarks have been captured through the lenses of Magnum photographers

Alex Webb At the city gate designed by Renzo Piano. Valleta, Malta. 2016. © Alex Webb | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Re-opening of the Beaubourg Museum after more than two years of extensive renovation. Paris, France. January 2000. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Harry Gruyaert Kansai International Airport, built by Renzo Piano. Osaka, Japan. 1997. © Harry Gruyaert | Magnum Photos
Ian Berry A view of the new Potsdamer Platz development. Berlin, Germany. © Ian Berry | Magnum Photos
Marc Riboud The queue to enter the Georges Pompidou Center (Beaubourg) just after its opening. Paris, France. January 1977. © Marc Riboud | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Re-opening of the Beaubourg Museum after more than two years of extensive renovation. Paris, France. January 2000. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Re-opening of the Centre Pompidou after more than two years of extensive renovation. Paris, France. January 2000. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Re-opening of the Beaubourg Museum after more than two years of extensive renovation. Paris, France. January 2000. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Matt Stuart People returning to work following the London Bridge terror attacks of 3rd June 2017. London, United Kingdom. June 5, 2017. © Matt Stuart | Magnum Photos
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Centre Georges Pompidou. The Stravinsky fountain designed by Niki de St Phalle and Jean Tinguely. Paris, France. 1999. © Gueorgui Pinkhassov | Magnum Photos
Thomas Hoepker Main building of the Menil Collection designed by architect Renzo Piano. Houston, Texas, USA. 2000. © Thomas Hoepker | Magnum Photos
Chris Steele-Perkins Thames cruise. Tower of London with reflection of the Shard. London, United Kingdom. 2016. © Chris Steele-Perkins | Magnum Photos
Marc Riboud Georges Pompidou Center (Beaubourg). Museum of Modern Art. Paris, France. 1977. © Marc Riboud | Magnum Photos
Alex Webb At the city gate designed by Renzo Piano. Valleta, Malta. 2016. © Alex Webb | Magnum Photos
Raymond Depardon In front of the Pompidou center. Paris, France. 1997. © Raymond Depardon | Magnum Photos
Ian Berry An ice cream vendor in front of the new Potsdamer Platz development. Berlin, Germany. © Ian Berry | Magnum Photos
Harry Gruyaert Kansai International Airport, built by Renzo Piano. Osaka, Japan. 1997. © Harry Gruyaert | Magnum Photos

Some of the most recognisable skylines in the world owe their silhouette to Renzo Piano, the Italian engineer and architect who turns 80 today. After collaboratively designing the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris with fellow architect Richard Rogers in his early thirties, when they were both relatively unknown, Piano went on to work on other famous projects, such as the Shard in London and the Whitney museum of American Art in New York.

Born in 1937 into a family of builders, Piano’s approach has always aimed to marry aesthetics with functionality. His portfolio includes state buildings, office complexes, shops and an airport (Kansai airport, Osaka). Piano made a name for himself creating buildings that possess a visual lightness, with a design that captures something of the zeitgeist. It was during the Pompidou project that Piano discovered his enthusiasm for piazzas, engineering empty spaces within the city where spontaneous moments occur and people lose themselves.

“You don’t have to struggle to give function to every single corner. You can just wait and see and enjoy,” he once said. The architect’s consideration for light, composition and space naturally chimes with photographers, many of whom have photographed his designs, from Alex Webb’s street photography in the main square in Malta’s capital Valletta, to Harry Gruyaert’s characteristically colorful shots of Osaka airport.

When it first appeared on the skyline, the Shard was initially widely criticised due to its singular domination of the South Bank, which Chris Steele-Perkins captures in his image of the reflection of the omnipresent landmark. However, slowly, the building has been accepted by Londoners and has come to represent something of the the spirit of the city. In Matt Stuart‘s image of commuters returning to work after the London Bridge attacks of June 2017, the Shard stands defiantly in the background.