RPBWRenzo Piano Building Workshop
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RPBW has worked in highly sensitive contexts in the past, including additions to the grounds of Le Corbusier's chapel at Ronchamp, but the Harvard site, spanning more than a century of building, is especially demanding.
Rising above a podium faced with hefty slabs of roughly finished, fine-grained, pale-gray Chelmsford granite, RPBW's addition is a massive block cantilevered over a glass-walled entry level, windowless save for projecting glazed bays on the northern and southern ends.
Thanks to RPBW's design, Corbusier's ramp is finally reconnected to the world.
Although RPBW's choice of materials indicates thoughtful acknowledgment of its context, there seems to have been no effort to integrate the new structure physically with the body of the Fogg building.
RPBW also designs cultural projects (currently museums in Boston, New York, Chicago, and Atlanta) as well as commercial buildings, including a mixed-use development in Berlin, the New York Times office tower in Manhattan, a mixed-use tower in London, and residential and office complexes in Lisbon and Sydney (Figure 2).
Their designs are less technological than Foster, RPBW, or RRP, but considerably more fashionable, which may be why they were commissioned to do a series of buildings for Prada.
Indeed, it is a tribute to the team, itself a complex of RPBW, Lend Lease Development (joint client), East Asia Property Group (joint client), and Bovis Lend Lease (builder/project manager), that they were able to bring such an eminently breakable idea through the process more or less intact.