Architect Renzo Piano just completed a new park, library and theater complex in Athens' Kallithea district- the first public building in Greece to achieve LEED Platinum certification. The complex, which was in large part made possible with a €596 million ($664 million) donation from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, replaces a horse-racing track and a parking lot left over from the 2004 Olympic Games.
The Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center looks like an artificial hill that rises towards the south part of the site to a maximum height of 32 meters (104 feet), offering great views of the sea and the bay of Kallithea. A sloping park, planted with indigenous species and conceived by New York landscape designer Deborah Nevins, tops the opera house and the library.
A large solar array was installed on the roof of the complex, which Piano calls the “flying carpet.” Inside, various functions and programs are organized around a central gathering space inspired by the agora, a typology dating back to ancient times. Over 5,000 manuscripts and documents are housed inside a large library.
Various other spaces like a business incubator for entrepreneurs, a music recording studio and play areas for kids and teenagers are distributed across the first two floors, while the adjacent opera house features two auditoriums for traditional and experimental performances.