Interview with Renzo Piano
Piano talks with AIA|LA Executive Director Carlo Caccavale about his Plans for The Academy Museum


When I was invited to visit the construction site of The Academy Museum as part of a tour led by Renzo Piano several months ago, the architect had recently turned 80. I couldn’t help noticing how the enthusiasm Piano conveys in his presentation and work, makes him appear younger than his age—maybe passion for what we do is the elixir of eternal youth.

The site walk through and accompanying talk by the architect, was held for select members of the press. Piano spoke in Italian, assisted by a translator, as he described the genesis, program, challenges and the positive impact he sees the building offering within the life of the city.

The event was also an opportunity to ask him a few questions, one-on-one. For me that meant a chance to interview someone in Italian, while here in Los Angeles. Here’s the translation back to English, with Piano’s take on the film industry, our city, architecture, and what happened when he recently went sailing—Carlo Caccavale, Hon. AIA|LA

Q. If you had to point out one thing that LA is doing well in terms of architecture and urban design, what would that be?
RP. I think what LA is doing well in expanding the subway system – with a metro station right here at the Academy Museum. And clearly, building a museum that celebrates the art of movie-making in a city like LA is certainly s relevant move from a civic standpoint. Cinema is not only entertainment, it is a business fundamental to Los Angeles.

Q. What do you think will be the most important civic element of this project?
RP. The legend says that nobody walks in LA but things are changing; the expanding subway system and projects such as this will encourage people to get out and walk in the city. The Academy museum will be part of the LACMA campus which already is a destination for people to come out and share values: passion for the arts and the movies because, yes, movies make us dream but they also challenge us, make us think.

Despite being a relatively new art, movie making has already a big history therefore this museum will be, at the same time, a factory and a museum; museum because it will celebrate the history of this art and factory because it will show how movies are made, the craft that goes in them and the business they generate.


Q. If you had the opportunity to design another project that would benefit the growth of Los Angeles, from all points of view, what would that be?
RP. In all honesty, I am so busy with so many projects to deliver, it would be difficult for me to think about others right now. But I truly believe that I am already building a project that will truly benefit LA: I really believe in the mission of this building and its power to create a place for community and constructive conversation and to honor an important part of this city’s heritage, the movie industry. This project is very dear to me.

Q. When you come to LA, a part from working, what do you enjoy doing in town?
RP. I really enjoy taking a boat and going out to sea. Yesterday, for instance, Frank Gehry and I tried to get out with his sail boat but couldn’t as the sea was too rough, but I do enjoy doing that.

And I also simply enjoy visiting friends—despite what some people might say—LA is a very friendly and welcoming city, I really like being here. But boy, is this a huge city, more like many cities in one blessed with the most incredible weather.
Last updated: 05-Dec-2017 12:15 PM
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