by Lisa Ashmore
The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia now bears the signatures of two living masters. Richard Meier designed the original in 1983; the expansion by Renzo Piano opened in November, 2005. The new addition reinforces Piano's reputation as a designer of cultural palaces that are distinctive without being ostentatious — and spare without an overly minimalist chill.
In a lecture at the addition's opening celebration, however, Piano paused to dispel the idea of his firm, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, as museum specialist. RPBW has built everything — football stadiums, shopping centers, exhibition halls, factories, banks, airports, train stations, symphony halls, houses, and even yachts.
As he nears age 70, Piano understands the contradictions that are the lure of city life, "the interaction between public and private spaces." He demonstrates the contrast at the High Museum with a temple of quiet and north light in the upper galleries, balanced by the rush and chatter of the cocktail crowd below in a modest piazza that is the heart of the new museum campus. >>>
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The newly expanded High Museum of Art in Atlanta, with the original Richard Meier building to the right, and the new wings by Renzo Piano, center and left, surrounding the Sifly Piazza and "House III" by Roy Lichtenstein.
Photo: Timothy Hursley
The expansion (back left) by Renzo Piano joins the High's existing building (front right) by Richard Meier. "The Shade," by Auguste Rodin in the foreground.
Photo: Jonathan Hillyer
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