Famed architect to design civic discourse building

By DIVA PAREKH | September 20, 2018

Renzo Piano ph. Stefano Goldberg-medium


Architect Renzo Piano has also designed the Whitney Museum in New York.

The University announced that distinguished architect Renzo Piano will design the headquarters of the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Agora Institute on Thursday, Sept. 20 in a press release. 

SNF, which is an international philanthropic organization that offers grants in the fields of arts, education and public health, pledged $150 million in June 2017 to create the Institute in collaboration with Hopkins. The Institute aims to improve civic engagement across the world.

A director, 10 new permanent faculty members and 10 visiting scholars will comprise the Institute’s staff, along with both graduate and undergraduate students. 

“It will also accommodate a variety of public events, including an annual conference bringing together representatives of different viewpoints to examine contested public policy issues,” the press release reads. “There will also be lectures, symposiums, dinners and performances.”

Italian architect Piano will partner with a local firm for the Agora Institute project. The Institute will be located on the Homewood Campus, but an exact site and the local firm that will be involved has yet to be finalized.

“I was attracted to the Johns Hopkins project for its humanistic nature and also because I have always been interested in making places for learning,” Piano said in the press release. “I am very happy and honored to start this new adventure.”

Piano and his Genoa-based Renzo Piano Building Workshop will focus on sustainability when designing the Institute.

Some of Piano’s most well-known projects include the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Shard in London and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. His career, which includes a 1998 Pritzker Prize, is currently the subject of a retrospective exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts in London titled The Art of Making Buildings

According to the press release, the Institute aims to serve as both a public and an academic forum.

“It will examine problems with modern democratic discourse, including how citizens are informed, how they debate, and how they engage with each other and with government,” the press release reads. 

Though Piano was not available for an interview, the press release mentioned he would be appearing in a public conversation with Daniels on architecture and society at Mason Hall at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24.

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