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Monday, February 09, 2009

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Athens, Greece

Italian architect takes his talents to Greece

Pritzker Prize winning Renzo Piano has revealed his designs for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, set to be a new icon for the ancient city. Housing the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera, both set within the Stavros Niarchos Park, the 187,800 sq m SNFCC is the first public-private endeavour of its kind with the Greek State.

Commenting on the significance of SNFCC, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis stated that, “this Center is a milestone for our country. The design is truly astonishing. In a wonderful manner, it combines high aesthetics with functionality and consideration for the environment. I am certain that its impact will extend beyond our national boundaries.”

In keeping with SNF’s and RPBW’s mission to create an emissions neutral facility, the project has been conceptualised with the highest standards of environmental sustainability. A pivotal design element that will play a significant role in helping achieve this aggressive standard can be seen in Piano and his Building Workshop’s innovative roof– a series of interconnected photovoltaic cell panels which will cover the structure’s needs, taking advantage of the pure “green” solar and wind energy. SNFCC is also expected to receive LEED certification.

“We were extremely honoured by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s invitation to play a role in such a generous gift to Greece,” noted Renzo Piano. “The Cultural Center’s proximity to water, and the natural warm breezes and light of Athens were particularly inspiring during the design process. It was immediately clear that we must take advantage of all these elements to ultimately design a zero emissions building that expresses movement and energy.”

SNFCC is expected to open in 2015 and its construction will be funded exclusively by SNF, an International philanthropic organisation concentrating on education, social welfare, health and medicine, and arts and culture prjects. The design will be realised with an approximate budget of 450 million Euros, pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding executed with the Greek State. Once completed, the project will be turned over to the Greek State.
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