Stavros Niarchos' heritage to the Greek public
If you live or have recently visited Athens, then you're definitely in the know of this spectacular culture and recreation site across the waterfront coastline of Athens. The construction of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center in Athens has recently been completed and today it is being handed over to the control of the Greek state.
Stavros Niarchos, a multi-billionaire shipping tycoon, died in 1996 leaving an estate worth more than $22 billion. Soon after that, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation was formed and since then it has committed grants totaling more than $1.5 billion, across 111 nations around the world. The SNF centre was one of its most ambitious projects, whereby the foundation had committed to a $800 million grant for building the most modern complex of various facilities including the National Library of Greece and the National Opera.
With around 10 years in the making, the SNF soft-launched in June 2015 by inviting Greeks and visitors alike to a 6km night-run "Running to the Future", starting from the Panathenium stadium all the way down to the SNF site. During the last year or so, there have been many occasions and cultural events that the foundation had been effortlessly offering to the public for free.
The main building is a creation of the famed architect Renzo Piano.
Both the opera and the library are combined in this building, with a public space, known as the Agora, providing access and connections between the two main facilities. The opera is composed of two auditoria, one dedicated to traditional operas and ballets, and the other one for more experimental performances. The library is intended as not only a place for learning and preserving culture, but also as a public resource, a space where culture is truly accessible to share and enjoy.