Chaos and Culture: Renzo Piano Building Workshop and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in AthensVictoria Newhouse

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In 2006 the Stavros Niarchos Foundation announced its gift of a new cultural center in Athens to house both Greek National Library and the Greek National Opera House within a forty-acre landscaped public park. Two years later, with designers and engineers in place and the project underway, the Greek economy collapsed.

In Chaos and Culture, Victoria Newhouse weaves a fascinating narrative of how a philanthropist and an extraordinary design team became convinced that architecture could serve as a beacon of hope amid Greece’s economic crisis and political upheaval. With meticulous methodology of primary research, interviews with designers, and historic context, Newhouse describes the decade-long process leading to the creation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), an $800 million dollar project that became the symbol of recovery and survival.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) cannot but assume unusual cultural significance, standing as it does on a hill in view of the Parthenon (to the north) and Faliro Bay (to the south). Newhouse further situates the project within the modern history of Athens, beginning with Greece’s independence in 1832, and reaches back much earlier to describe two-thousand-year old cemeteries unearthed on the site. Aerial views by the photographer Iwan Baan are among the 200 photographs and drawings documenting the process and context of the SNFCC.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Size: 277 × 284 mm ( × in)
  • Pages: 240 pp
  • Illustrations: 200 illustrations
  • ISBN: 9781580934886

An in-depth study of the creation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center set against the economic crisis and political upheaval in Greece.