SNFCC: A Dream Becomes Reality

The long journey from the visionary sketches of a world-famous architect to its transformation into a engineering work unique in the world that challenges the laws of nature is finally complete.

On June 23, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) will open its doors to the public for a four-day international event that will draw the spotlight to a project that represents better than any other the desire of redemption on the part of the Greek people – in addition to the vision of a new artistic and cultural hub held by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.
Designed by star architect Renzo Piano and built by Salini Impregilo as head of a joint-venture with Greece’s Terna, the SNFCC is the latest example of engineering excellence put to the service of art and culture. The SNFCC will house two of the country’s most important cultural institutions: the National Library of Greece with 750.000 books and the Greek National Opera.

It is a dream come true, an idea that has taken shape in such a way that the world of engineering has sought to accommodate art, joining forces with it in a project that is unique in the world, a project that had been deemed impossible to realize in light of its architectural and engineering challenges. It is a project that would have drawn the attention of an artist with scientific and engineering leanings as Leonardo Da Vinci with its roof, or canopy, that resembles a wing, dancing according to the rhythm of the Greek wind in a setting of incredible beauty with the Acropolis and Parthenon as a backdrop.

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

Metamorphosis, the June 23 event organized to introduce the SNFCC to the world, offers an opportunity for the Foundation, architect Piano and builder Salini Impregilo to explain the secrets of a project that has already broken many records. They range from the biggest private donation made in the country (€596 million from the Foundation) to the architectural and engineering feats that make every angle of the SNFCC (from the opera’s moveable stage to the structure of the roof) a world of excellence, luring engineers and architects to come study it.
During the course of the Metamorphosis initiative, the public will be able to attend cultural events and artistic performances, witnessing the various spirits of the project. It will be able to appreciate the inspiration of its creators, the vision of its financiers as well as the passion and tenacity of its builders. Guided tours will help the public learn the secrets of the building and the park.
It is a way for the Foundation to share its vision of a meeting place for art and culture as well as for education and engineering.

Following the success of initiatives held in previous years (such as visits to the construction site organized every June), the event marks the delivery of the project from Salini Impregilo, Terna to the Foundation.
It is an occasion to celebrate not only the realization of a visionary project but also the success of urban renewal based on the idea that such kind of projects can help lead social and economic development. The Kallithea neighborhood where the SNFCC is located - and Athens itself – stand to benefit in the coming years from what will soon become a point of attraction for artists from all over the world, returning to Greece – but also Europe – its primary role in art and culture as recognized by its millennial history.

All photos of the “The New Cultural Center in Athens” Special Issue are copyrighted: Copyright © Moreno Maggi by Salini-Impregilo