Welcome to the London Architecture Diary, your essential guide to architecture exhibitions and events taking place across the city, brought to you by New London Architecture.
Join architects Peter Buchanan and Shunji Ishida as they take a closer look at the highly influential Menil Collection in Texas, the first major project of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
The Menil Collection (1981-87), a museum located in Houston, Texas marks a crucial point in Renzo Piano’s career and that of his then new practice. It is the project where many of his interests, including a focus on local context and culture, came to maturity. The building was commissioned by Dominique de Menil, who encouraged Piano to extend the hands-on and research intensive approach to innovation used for the Pompidou, and supported the architect’s fascination with space and light. The Menil Collection brings together both of these interests as it engages with the context by marrying America’s two vernacular construction methods, the steel frame and clapboard in its external walls; and uses modern materials to create a unique roof structure to filter daylight into the galleries.
From then, Piano’s work pursues the balance between imported, innovative technology and local materials and tradition. Thus, his best buildings seem not imposed on a site, but as if grown from it. This can be seen in a series of post-Menil museums, including the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Nouméa, New Caledonia and others.
Join Shunji Ishida, who worked on the Centre Pompidou and most other works by Renzo Piano Building Workshop since, and Peter Buchanan, author of the five volumes of Renzo Piano Building Workshop: Complete Works, as they discuss the importance of this seminal project and the development of Renzo Piano’s work over the years.