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Renzo Piano's design for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens
Renzo Piano's design for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens

RIOTS WELCOME NIARCHOS CENTER

July 1, 2011

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The riots sparked by Greece’s economic collapse didn’t stop the unveiling of plans for a new $803-million Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in the city. Architect Renzo Piano has unveiled images of the 85,000-square-meter building, complete with a 42-acre park, a National Library headquarters, an opera house and a smaller, 400-seat performance space.

The Golden Greek, as he was called, died in 1996, but not before he bought the art collection of Edward G. Robinson in 1956, and Pablo Picasso’s early self-portrait, Yo Picasso, for $47.8 million. His sons, Philippe Niarchos (b. 1954), and Spyros Niarchos (b. 1955, and married for 12 years to Daphne Guinness), are co-presidents of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which holds their father’s art collection. 

Construction is set to begin later this year, with a scheduled opening date of 2015, at which point the family of the late Greek shipping heir and Impressionist and modern art collector will turn over control of the center to the government. Of course, how the beleaguered country will sustain the gift has yet to be seen.

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