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Architect Renzo Piano winner of the Pritzker Prize | Buildings in Berlin

Debis-Haus at Potsdamer Platz, Renzo Piano

21st Pritzker Architecture Prize Winner

Italian architect Renzo Piano (born September 14, 1937) was awarded the 21st Prizker Architecture Prize in 1998 during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C.

His architecture career began in collaboration with other architects. First as being part of other practices like Louis Kahn's (iconic US-American architect). Later on he would establish architectural firms together with Richard Rogers in 1971, and then with Peter Rice in 1977.

Renzo Piano then founded his 'Renzo Piano Building Workshop' in 1981, which he still runs today.

He sees architecture as art, as science and specially as a service. Defining himself as an explorer, Renzo Piano has built projects all over the world.  By the time he won the most prestigious award in architecture, the Pritzker Pize, Renzo Piano had already in his work portfolio projects of great caliber like the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris, France; the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan; the NEMO science museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands; and was developing the urban renewal of Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany.

"His inventions, contributions, and continued explorations to solve contemporary problems in a technological age, add to the definition of the art of architecture." -Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury Citation, 1998.

Buildings in Berlin

Potsdamer Platz Urban Plan and the Debis-Haus building

Potsdamer Arkaden Shopping Center by night with the Debis-Haus building's green cube tower top on the pack

Debis-Haus building in the Daimler Square

Just after the the German reunification and the fall of the Berlin Wall a competition was held to propose a renewal plan for the area of Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. The area had become a wasteland during wars and the mission was to reconnect spaces that were divided with the Berlin Wall and create a new urban center with a mix of activities.

Renzo Piano not only created the urban plan but designed 8 of the buildings too. The buildings in Potsdamer Platz designed by Piano include the Debris-Haus building, the Arkaden shopping mall and the Theater and Casino that meet in the Marlene Dietrich Platz, the most important open square in the complex.

Other architects that won competitions for the design and construction of the other 10 buildings include Rafael Moneo, Richard Rogers and Helmut Jahn.


Terracotta facades


The Debrs-Haus buildings seen from the Marlene Dietrich open plaza.



Debis-Haus interior atrium

"Firstly, architecture is a service, in the most literal term. It is an art that produces things that serve a purpose. But it is also a socially dangerous art, because it is an imposed art."



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