On Renzo Piano's Modern Wing for the Art Institute
I visited the new wing of the Art Institute of Chicago recently. Renzo Piano’s building for the AIC is everything that Libeskind’s Denver Art Museum is not: light, airy, elegant, despite its size; striking without being overwhelming; and it serves the art extremely well. Every space in Piano’s design seems to be filled with natural light, presumably a combination of all the walls of glass and the innovative tile system of the roof. The materials, both inside and out, are beautiful: smooth wood, stone, glass. I know that architects can’t be expected to be the same, or to produce the same kinds of designs, but the difference in the Chicago and the Denver buildings shows a difference of attitude towards human beings. Libeskind clearly doesn’t care one bit about the effect of his buildings on people (except to be pleased when they are provoked), while Piano clearly thinks about how people will use the spaces that he creates.