Grand Opening of Piece by Piece – Inside Renzo Piano Building Workshop Exhibit at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre

Grand Opening of Piece by Piece – Inside Renzo Piano Building Workshop Exhibit at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre

(This post is in English, for the Chinese version, please click on the link below🔗/ 此文為英文,欲看中文版本,請點以下連結🔗):

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Piece by Piece – Inside the Renzo Piano Building Workshop exhibit is a large exhibition that showcases the designs of the influential architectural firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW). This exhibit is composed of 11 projects —some of which are award-winning projects — complete with models, photos, and other detailed documentation. Every step in the RPBW’s construction process takes into account the specific context of each site and a fundamental objective of ‘designing places for people and building each sitepiece by piece.’ ‘Piece by piece’ refers to Renzo Piano’s working style of carefully considering every single piece of their project that comes together to create a complete and final picture. On display at the Harbourfront Centre from July 16th to September 11th, Piece by Piece is co-presented by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Consulate General of ItalyCultural Section, Italian Contemporary Film Festival (ICFF), and Harbourfront Centre.

On Saturday, July 16th, ICFF organized an opening night party celebrating this exhibit and honouring Renzo Piano and his architectural firm. The event consisted of a panel discussion, a screening of the film Inside Renzo Piano Building Workshop, a Q&A with the director and producer of the film, and a cocktail party.
Below are highlights from the opening night screening and party:
Panel Discussion with Renzo Piano Building Workshop and NORR
While the exhibition is currently on display at the Harbourfront Centre, the celebration was, in fact, held in a screening room inside the Power Plant Gallery. Elizabeth Pagliacolo (Editor-in-Chief of AZURE magazine) moderated this panel and did a fantastic job of ensuring the panel was lively and engaging. The members of this panel were Giorgio Bianchi and Amaury Greig, associates of RPBW, and Silvio Baldassarra, chairman of NORR. The discussion centred on RPBW’s past and current projects and the exciting stories behind them.
The architectural firm has designed many of the world’s most recognizable buildings and landmarks, such as the Pompidou Centre in Paris, France, and The New York Times Skyscraper in New York. When discussing the process of designing the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Amaury and Giorgio went into detail about the academy’s distinctive roof. The roof is topped with a 2.5-acre living roof, the green roof is covered in native California plants and wildflowers, and employs a wide range of energy-saving materials and technologies. RPBW worked with scientists on this design to strengthen the academy’s connection with nature and the public. The California Academy of Sciences received the Urban Land Institute (ULI) 2009 Awards for Excellence for its record-setting design.
Then the panel moved to a discussion of RPBW’s newest project: the New Toronto Courthouse. This project is a collaborative effort between NORR and RPBW and is currently under construction. As RPBW’s first project on Canadian soil, this courthouse will be the largest courthouse in Ontario once it’s completed. Silvio Baldassarra shared that the courthouse will be a 17-storey building with a 20-metre-tall atrium as one of its defining features. The atrium will be enclosed by a transparent glazed facade to convey a feeling of transparency and openness to the public. This new courthouse is located right around the corner from Nathan Phillips Square and was described by the panel as a final piece of the city’s judiciary precinct.

  • Film Screening of Inside Renzo Piano Building Workshop:

Following the panel discussion, the audience was treated to the North American premiere screening of the documentary, Inside Renzo Piano Building Workshop. This film gave the audience an intimate, behind-the-scenes access to the projects and people associated with RPBW. The film took the audience through the RPBW stages: starting in the studios in Paris, France and Genoa, Italy, then moving to the construction sites in Paris, France, Geneva, Switzerland, and Los Angeles, California, and then sitting in interviews with some of the clients, consultants, and architects.
The film successfully conveyed the complex and lengthy creative processes of taking a project from sketch to freestanding physical structure. It’s easy to look at a building and say, “Oh, that looks cool,” and then walk past it without giving it another thought. Behind these buildings are untold stories of the discussions, designing, imagination, research, and experimentation.

  • Q&A Period with Francesca Molteni and Claudia Adragna:

After the film, the audience stayed behind for a short question and answer period with the film’s director and one of the producers. The moderator was Veronica Mason, Director, Istituto Italiano di Cultura Toronto. She welcomed Francesca Molteni (director) and Claudia Adragna (producer) to the stage. One of the highlights of the Q&A was the audience repeatedly noting how charismatic and personable Renzo was in the film. There were moments when he spoke of his upbringing as the son of a builder with fondness and displayed his trust in his teams. Claudia explained that teamwork was another recurring theme in the film. The philosophy behind the name of his architectural firm is to emphasize that his firm is like a workshop, where everyone, from the senior principal to the construction worker, comes together to research, experiment, discover, and explore. Everybody associated with RPBW plays an integral part in carefully considering the process. During the film, Piano said: “We work as a team, as in a construction site: “a construction site of ideas next to the construction site of the hands and the construction site of stones.”
A cocktail party followed the Q&A, where the catering was provided by Culinary Studios.

About Piece by Piece — Inside Renzo Piano Building Workshop:

The Piece by Piece: Inside Renzo Piano Building Workshop is an exhibition comprising 11 projects designed to reflect RPBW’s working process. To learn more about the exhibit, please visit

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