Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

Architect: Renzo Piano | Project completion: 2017

I visited this site on the Phaleron Delta for the first time in June 2007, having been invited by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to document the stages of Renzo Piano’s unique construction site photographically, as well as through the prism of my experience as an architect. Since that time, slowly and steadily, without fanfare or tension, the landscape has changed radically. Hundreds of workers and engineers were installed and heavy machinery set to work, forever reshaping this place, transforming it gradually from a residual urban void to the city’s cultural and artistic center.

During the construction of the SNFCC, I had the privilege of observing a landscape in transition. When the project is completed and opens its doors to the public, its users—lovers of music, readers, strollers in the park, families, and other visitors—will perhaps be under the impression that the place was always there in the form in which they see it.

The successive stages of its construction and the human effort behind it will slowly fade from memory; the Center’s functions will overshadow the ephemeral phases of its creation.

My hope is that the photographs of the construction of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center will serve as a compelling record of the major changes that took place in this landscape before the dynamics of the final result made them self-evident—before they were taken for granted. Photographs, after all, have the power to transmit not only the news of the present day, but also the memory of the past and the anticipation of that which is to come.