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Renzo Piano unveils his plans today

World-renown Italian architect Renzo Piano will be unveiling his plans for City Gate this evening, at a grand launch in Republic Street, Valletta.

The launch will take place at a ceremony outside the Museum of Archaeology and will include an exposè of the project by the master himself.

There will also be a hand-built model of the plans, made by craftsmen at Mr Piano's studio in Paris.

The government has pulled out all the stops to have a grand ceremony, which will even be televised live.

In an interview with The Times ahead of today's launch, the 71-year-old architect promised something magical for his second bid to change the face of Valletta's entrance.

In the interview, Mr Piano partially revealed his plans, saying the old opera house site would be converted into an open-air, 1,200-seat theatre that would incorporate the bombed ruins.

The new Parliament building would be on Freedom Square and the first floor of the planned building will appear to "fly" over the ground floor, which will have an element of transparency, to reveal St James Cavalier and a garden being planned there.

Not much is known about City Gate but Mr Piano spoke of a garden in St James Ditch that will give access to the city through a new lift.

Who is Renzo Piano?

Renzo Piano was born in the port city of Genoa, Italy on September 14, 1937. He graduated from the school of Architecture of the Milan Polytechnic.

His father was a builder and this influenced him significantly, both because he was exposed to construction at an early age and because the craft behind architecture remained very much engrained in him as an architect.

In 1971, he set up the Piano & Rogers agency, with Richard Rogers, his partner on the Centre Pompidou in Paris. In 1977, he founded L'Atelier Piano and Rice with engineer Peter Rice, who would work with him on many projects until his death in 1992.

He then founded the Renzo Piano Building Workshop with offices in Paris and Genoa. Some 100 architects, engineers and other professionals work with him.

In 1990, he received the Kyoto Prize and eight years later the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize.

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