RA show rightly casts Renzo Piano as pragmatist and dreamer

Renzo Piano Building Workshop: The Shard and the London skyline in 2012

The first big architecture exhibition since David Chipperfield united the two halves of the Royal Academy is a hit

Set within a trio of galleries on the Burlington Gardens end of the recently revamped Royal Academy, Renzo Piano: The Art of Making Buildings delights with a layout that is simple and direct yet richly detailed in the material presented. Refreshingly free of polemic, much like Piano’s work itself, the exhibition elegantly communicates the work of a gentle architect and his studio of exceptional talent.

Two bookend rooms tell the story of 16 buildings, each one presented to us like a meal on a table, plein air dioramas revealing each from commission to completion. The hundreds of displayed items cover everything from unexpected Technicolor study models for the Whitney to deputy prime minister John Prescott’s infamous Shard letter. The selection is the product of close collaboration between RA curators and Piano himself. Casually lined with foldable director’s chairs, they invite you to come in and have a seat and read and learn; how un-2018. One could easily imagine Piano and his colleagues deep in conversation in the same chairs while overlooking the Genovese coast from their cliff-top studio.

This is premium content

Only logged in subscribers have access to it.

Login or Subscribe to view this story

Existing subscriber? LOGIN or

Take out a subscription to BD and you will get immediate access to:

  • Up to the minute architecture news from around the UK
  • Reviews of the latest buildings from all corners of the world
  • Our monthly digital edition including stunning photos, building and technical studies
  • Full access to all our online archives
  • PLUS you will receive a print copy of WA100 when it is published in January

Get access to premium content subscribe today

Alternatively REGISTER for free access on selected stories and sign up for email alerts