Recorded October 27, 1997
On the occasion of the publication of his monograph Renzo Piano: Logbook, the architect was invited to speak as part of the 1997-98 Current Work lecture series. The lecture is available here in its entirety. Explaining a growing interest in educational work, Piano began by describing his recent visit to the Ise Grand Shrine in Japan — a temple that is rebuilt every twenty years. Piano noted that during the festival, participants twenty to forty years old who are attending for the first time learn to build the shrine; those forty to sixty actually construct the building; and those sixty to eighty teach the younger cohort. In this educational spirit Piano began his lecture and stressed the importance of explaining “the pleasure of invention” to younger generations. Presentations of public, large scale, built work followed, such as the Workshop’s Kansai Airport, the San Nicola Football Stadium, and Amsterdam’s National Center for Science and Technology, among others. Piano also highlighted important projects for the arts including the Menil Collection and Cy Twombly Pavilion, both in Houston.
At the conclusion of his lecture, Piano warned against the “temptation to seperate technology and art” and against those who desire to “solve” the relationship between tradition and modernity, allowing one to subsume the other. Remembering words of Jorge Luis Borges, Piano asserted that “making art is like being suspended between remembering things and forgetting them.” The forgetting produces the “black holes to be filled with invention,” but always within the fabric of memory.
The Architectural League’s Current Work series presents the work of significant international figures, who powerfully influence contemporary architectural practice and shape the future of the built environment.