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Renzo Piano Turned This Athens Parking Lot Into a Lush Paradise

The Property Addict / Architecture & Design

Oct 12 2016

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For the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in Athens, Greece, architect Renzo Piano and landscape designer Deborah Nevins conjure a cultural"�and horticultural"�paradise out of a former parking lot

by Pilar Viladas, Architectural Digest

The news out of Greece has not exactly been cheery the past few years, with the economic and refugee crises dominating the headlines. So hopes are high that Athens's recently completed Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) will provide a morale boost not only for the city but for the country as a whole. The $854 million SNFCC complex was developed and built by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which administers the fortune of the late shipping magnate. Situated in the historic coastal neighborhood of Kallithea"�on what had been a parking lot for the 2004 Olympic Games"�the center was designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop to house the Greek National Opera and the National Library of Greece, and it includes a 42-acre park by the New York landscape design firm Deborah Nevins & Associates.

Both institutions"�the opera house, with its two concert halls (a 1,400-seat auditorium and a 400-seat experimental space), and the library, which has a state-of-the-art media lab and can hold two million books"�are contained in a single glass-and-concrete building, with separate entrances off a central plaza called the agora, a reference to the ancient Greek public square. Much of the complex is blanketed by a sloping green roof"�seamlessly connected to the park"�that reaches a height of nearly 100 feet, a feature conceived to restore the site's view of the sea, which had been obscured by construction over the decades. Atop this hill-like rise, an open pavilion offers a place for events, quiet contemplation, or simply admiring the 360-degree view, which includes the Acropolis. The structure is crowned by a 108,000-square-foot canopy covered with photovoltaic cells that generate electricity for the development (which is expected to receive LEED Platinum certification). As Giorgio Bianchi, the partner in charge of the project for Piano's office, puts it, "The park and the buildings overlap, and it becomes one unique experience." renzo6 renzo5 renzo4 renzo2 renzo1 renzopiano

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