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Olympic torch to be lit in March on site Ancient Olympia February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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On 24 March, the most enduring symbol of the Olympic Games, the Olympic Torch, will be lit in Ancient Olympia, Greece and begin making its way to Beijing.

Greek Minister of Culture, Michalis Liapis, says preparations are complete for the torch lighting ceremony. The ceremony will take place at Greece’s famous and historic Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Thousands of years ago, torches for the ancient Games were lit here, though now only ruins remain.

But it seems fitting that the torch will make its way from one culture rich in traditions to another. Michalis Liapis, Greek Minister of Culture, said, “China boasts a long history and profound culture. I’m convinced the Beijing Olympics will be the best one in history.”

As it crosses the globe, the torch will pass through 22 cities on five continents and 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland. The flame will also be carried to the world’s highest peak, Mount Qomolangma. Its journey will cover 137 thousand kilometers and pass through the hands of more than 20 thousand torchbearers.

Renzo Piano to design new National Greek Opera February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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Renzo Piano has been chosen as the architect for a new National Opera house and cultural park in Athens, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Niarchos Foundation, financing the project, said on Thursday that Mr. Piano, co-designer of the Pompidou Center in Paris and designer of The New York Times building, will also create a cultural complex, including a new National Library, surrounding the opera house on the site of a former racetrack that was leveled and used as a bus depot for the 2004 Athens Olympics. The estimated cost of the project is $441 million.

UPDATE >>> Renzo Piano Chosen to Design New Greek Opera, Library Complex

Renzo Piano, the architect who designed the New York Times Building, was chosen to build a cultural center in Athens, Greece that will house the country’s new National Opera house and new National Library.

Piano will develop a 42-acre (17 hectare) property on the coast near the center of Athens, the capital, according to a statement from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which commissioned the project. The site will house the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center with new opera and library facilities within an educational and cultural park.

The foundation has budgeted 300 million euros ($442 million) for the center and will hand over the project to the Greek state on completion.

Piano, 70, a native of Genoa, Italy, won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1998 and has designed the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland, and the Kansai International Airport Terminal in Osaka, Japan. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation funds activities in education, social welfare, health and medicine and arts and culture and has disbursed more than $318 million since its inception in 1996.

The foundation was created by Stavros Niarchos, one of the most successful Greek shipowners. Niarchos, who died in 1996, bought his first six freighters during the 1930s to import wheat from Argentina and the Soviet Union. He leased vessels to the Allied Forces during World War II and used the insurance funds after they were destroyed to buy oil tankers. At its peak, his company operated more than 80 tankers.