THEME: Tall Buildings

Angela Brady in conversation with Renzo Piano

BY Renzo Piano | November 2012

Earlier this year, Renzo Piano’s Shard was finally unveiled as the latest tall building to appear on London’s skyline. It has since attracted a mixed response; it’s certainly a striking statement, but one that towers alone, imposing itself upon one of London’s most historic boroughs. In this series of Think Pieces, we have asked a range of contributors to consider whether tall buildings are really the answer to our social, economic and environmental challenges of the future, in the context of continued population increase and global urbanisation.

You are invited to join the debate using the form on the right hand side. You can comment on both the theme in general and individual author’s response, if you want to react to an existing comment, please make reference using the ‘title’ field. You are required to input an email address to submit a comment, but you won’t be contacted in any way and it will not display, this is purely to stop spam.

Renzo Piano has talked about the Shard as a \’Vertical City\’. This notion was a key stimulus for this series of Think Pieces, and RIBA president Angela Brady recently asked Renzo to expand on this in his own words.

Renzo Piano / Tall Buildings from RIBA Building Futures on Vimeo.


Renzo Piano was born into a family of builders in Genoa, Italy in 1937 – his family history has come to play an influential role in his philosophy as an architect, combining practical and academic experience and focusing on the craft and ‘making’ of buildings. He studied in Florence and Milan before setting up a design practice with Richard Rogers in London in 1971. Following the pairs’ now famous Centre Pompidou, Renzo moved to Paris and eventually founded Renzo Piano Building Workshop in 1981; a design practice that now commands an influential and international profile.

Recognition of his achievements has included awards such as the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1989, the Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo in 1995, the Pritzker Architecture Prize in1998, and the AIA Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects in 2008.

In 2012 Renzo completed The Shard in London for property developer Irvine Sellar.