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Letter to a young architect


Renzo Piano speaking to the media at Cersaie.

During Cersaie in Bologna, Italy, last fall, Renzo Piano—one of Italy’s greatest exports—had this to say to aspiring architects:

Architecture is a beautiful profession. As a student, you have to struggle, and being shy is a good thing. Always remember, you have to take but you also have to give back.

Study architecture and travel—and not just to flee Italy or wherever it is you live! An architect is supposed to travel, and I advise you to do so before drawing and being an academic. You’re young and can live the cheapest so you have to set about discovering yourself; it’s about curiosity.

In the 30’s, I went to London and to Paris, and I never came back to Italy. Back then, people were expatriated, but it’s different now and living somewhere else is good.

Being a young architect is like being someone doing karaoke: you think you sing well but you don’t. For this reason you should not be left on your own when designing buildings early on! [That said] when people try to give you advice, don’t listen to anyone—people will give you terrible ideas. You have to be a rebel.

To see a fantastic lecture from Cersaie, given by Arizona-based architect Micheal P. Johnson, visit Roaming by Design.


  • Sandy, Home and Living Examiner 5 years ago

    Good advice for my architect student. She's beginning her travel years by going to Costa Rica this summer.

  • Saxon Henry 5 years ago

    I'm glad it was useful to you, Sandy. Thanks for taking the time to comment...

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