He graduated in 1964 from the Milan Polytechnic. As a student, he worked at the firm of designer Franco Albini and made regularly visits to his father's building sites, where he gained valuable practical experience. The years between 1965 and 1970 were marked by travels to Britain and the United States for work and research. It was then that he met Jean Prouvé, forging a friendship that would eventually have a profound influence on his professional life.In 1970, he founded Piano & Rogers with Richard Rogers, his partner on the Centre Pompidou project in Paris. In 1977, he opened the Atelier Piano & Rice together with engineer Peter Rice, a professional figure who would remain his business partner for many years, working with him on many projects until his death in 1993. He then founded the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, with offices in Paris and Genoa and New York a 100-strong staff made up of architects, engineers, specialists, etc.His main projects include: the Centre Georges Pompidou, with Richard Rogers (Paris, 1977); The Menil Collection museum (Houston, 1987); the San Nicola football stadium (Bari, 1990); the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (Genoa, 1991); aquarium and congress hall (Genoa, 1992); Lingotto Congress-Concert Hall (Turin, 1994); the Méridien Hotel at Lingotto and Business Center (Turin, 1995); Kansai International Airport (Osaka, 1994); the Debis building, headquarters of Daimler- Benz (Potsdamer Platz-Berlin, 1997); Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre (New Caledonia, 1998); the Ferrari wind tunnel (Maranello-Modena, 1998); high-rise offices and apartments blocks (Sydney, 200); Maison Hermès (Tokyo, 2000); the Parco della Musica auditorium (Rome, 2002); the Giovanni e Marella Agnelli Art Gallery at Lingotto (Turin, 2002); the Nasher Sculpture Centre (Dallas, 2003); the Padre Pio pilgrimage church (San Giovanni Rotondo-Foggia, 2004); Zentrum Paul Klee (Bern, 2005); the New York Times Building (2007), the new California Academy of Sciences building in San Francisco (2008); the Shard London Bridge skyscraper (2012); extension of the Art Institute of Chicago (2009); extension of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2012); extension of the Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, 2013); Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, 2015); Cultural Center of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (Athens, 2016); Botín Center (Santander, 2017); new Court of Paris (2017); new Campus for Columbia University New York, 2016).
He has received several awards and honours of international importance. On 4 September 2013 the architect Piano was nominated Life Senator by the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano. In the second half of the 1980s he designed the Teso series for FontanaArte, made up of a table, bookcase and console. Furnishing objects with an extraordinary personality, which use glass as the main raw material becoming single blocks thanks to a supporting structure of metal rods.