During Dire Times in Greece, a Beacon for a Brighter Future is Unveiled

By Stavros Niarchos Foundation, PRNE
Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ATHENS, Greece, June 29, 2011 -


- A 21st Century Symbol of Athens

Months in the planning, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and
Renzo Piano Building Workshop unveiled today the final designs for
the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) - a
world-class cultural, educational, and recreational
complex/destination and a new urban symbol of 21st century Athens.
Construction is expected to start later this year, with a
completion date of 2015.

“The project is very important in terms of aspirations for
Greece and its people, especially during this difficult economic
period,” stated Stavros Niarchos Foundation Co-President Andreas
. “The SNFCC symbolizes progress, development and
innovation, but it is also a transformational project, with
significant environmental, educational, cultural, economic, social,
and civic consequences.”

Designed by world-renowned, Pritzker Prize-winning,
“Mediterranean” architect Renzo Piano and his Building Workshop,
the SNFCC will enrich the daily lives of Greeks, and millions of
visitors from around the world. It will include the 170,000 m2
(42-acre) Stavros Niarchos Park, a state-of-the-art headquarters
for the National Library of Greece, and a new opera house for the
Greek National Opera.

Overlooking the Athens waterfront, 4.5 km south of central
Athens, the SNFCC honors the namesake of its surrounding community,
Kallithea (”beautiful view”), by restoring open views of the sea.
The Stavros Niarchos Park will comprise 85 percent of the SNFCC
site, making it one of the largest green spaces in Athens, which
currently has the lowest per capita green space in Europe. It will
gently grade to a 32 m-high hill leading to the summit where an
extension of the Agora, a glass-walled
multifunctional Reading room, will facilitate the visual
connection between sea and city - past, present and future. In so
doing, it will also connect visually the Bay and the Acropolis,
paying homage to the classical icon rising above it.

Underneath the Park, two buildings have been combined into one
fluid, glass-walled structure, sculpted to include an urban
Agora - both a gathering place and a portal to
the National Library and Greek National Opera. An iconographic wall
of books, a functional and welcoming symbol of accessible learning,
defines the character of the new National Library of Greece, which
will expand its focus from an exclusive research facility to an
all-inclusive public resource. The Greek National Opera will offer
technological sophistication and world-class acoustics that will
accommodate the most demanding productions including concerts,
ballets, musicals, and more intimate solo performances.  

A beacon of sustainability is borne out in every aspect of the
design - from the Park, which also functions as a green roof for
the National Library and Greek National Opera, to a Canal which
functions as additional anti-flooding protection for the site, to
the photovoltaic solar energy canopy which produces energy for the
two buildings’ needs and will contribute to low building emissions.
The project aims to earn Platinum or Gold Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the first such
designation in Greece and the first for a project of this scale in

The approximately euro 566 million (US$803 million) project is
representative of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s commitment to
the culture, prosperity, and future of Greece, and it is developed
on a site owned by the Greek State. When completed, it will be
fully operated and controlled by the State, the first
public-private partnership of its kind in Greece, and the largest
cultural/educational project ever undertaken in the country. As one
of the biggest construction projects in recent Greek history, the
Center will have an immediate impact on the local economy,
providing jobs and infusing capital into a challenging economic

A study of the economic and social impact of the SNFCC,
conducted by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and commissioned by
the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, estimated the following benefits
to the project, among others:

  • Approximately euro 1 billion of total economic stimulus
    (including construction spending) will be derived from the upfront
    investment in the construction of the SNFCC;
  • The combined effects of operations and visitor spending
    associated with SNFCC activities will generate approximately euro
    160 million
    of economic activity annually when in full operational
    capacity throughout the local community, Athens, and Greece;
  • The green surface per capita will double in the surrounding
  • Athens will gain a world-class cultural institution, as well as
    a gathering place and an urban destination - with all of the
    recognition and international attention that comes with it;
  • The SNFCC will be the focal point of redevelopment of a major
    area of downtown Athens;
  • The ongoing operations and programming of the SNFCC will be a
    perpetual economic and cultural engine for Athens and Greece.

About the Stavros Niarchos

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation ( href="www.snf.org/">www.SNF.org) is one of the
world’s leading international philanthropic organizations, making
grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and
medicine, and social welfare. While prominent in its support of
Greek-related initiatives, the Foundation’s activities are
worldwide in scope. To date, the Foundation has provided total
grant commitments of euro 928 million/US $1.3 billion through more
than 2,000 grants to nonprofit organizations  href="snf.org/index.php?ID=maps_EN">in 95 nations
around the world.

Beth Garcia
Goodman Media International for Stavros Niarchos Foundation
+1-212-576-2700 ext 242


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