In Memoriam – Born in 1927 in Novara, Vittorio Gregotti graduated at Milan Politecnico university and – as a young professional worked in Paris for architecture master Auguste Perret. In 1972 he founded his studio Vittorio Gregotti Associati in Milan where created over 1.600 projects – “Not that many, I suppose” – from Shanghai to New York. Gregotti passed away aged 92 due complications related to Coronavirus. The infection hit Italy causing over 1.800 deaths on June 15, 2020.
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During his long eclectic life Vittorio Gregotti worked with or met all important Italian and international architects such as Le Corbusier, Gropius and Ove Arup. “But my true maestro has been Ernesto Nathan Rogers when I used to work at BBPR,” Wright? “When I was introduced as a young Modern Italian architect he asked if Italian modern architecture existed?”
Of Mies Van de Rohe “I envy his universalism, we used to hang out in Chicago as we both weren’t that fluent in English.” Renzo Piano? “One of the most promising university students”. Gae Aulenti has been “a great architect and a friend. She never renounced to her femininity – not an easy task back then.”
Among is most notable projects in Milan is the Bicocca Project, 1985. Gregotti adapted the 676.000 sqm urban plan of a former industrial area to create a district conceived as ‘a city in the city’ and defined by blocky volumes, large green areas as well as public and private spaces.
In Milan, for the Pirelli headquarters (from 1985) Vittorio Gregotti reconverted the Pirelli factory into the company’s new headquarters and a multifunctional technology hub. He decided to keep a 46m high concrete water cooling tower from the 50s and wrap it in a monumental glass cube. In 2002, still in the Bicocca district, he inaugurated also the Arcimboldi Opera Theatre, a monolithic 18.300 sqm structure hosting over 2.300 music lovers.
Other notable buildings completed in Italy are the Novara Office Palace (1960), Genoa Stadium Luigi Ferraris (1990), Palermo university mega-complex (1969) and – still in the Sicilian city – the controverse ZEN district (1969), a bleak, multi-storied housing project in a sever state of dilapidation. As a result of rampant unemployment, poverty, high school drop-out rate and marginalization of the residents, ZEN has become notorious for its crime, juvenile delinquency and social degradation.
Abroad he completed the Stadium of Barcelona and other olympic structures (1984 and 1986), the urban planning to the residential district of Punjang in Shanghai (2002) and the Centro Culturale a Bélem in Lisbon (1988).
In 2012 Milan Triennale awarded Vittorio Gregotti with a Gold Medal for lifetime achievement. Architect and Triennale director Stefano Boeri said: “In these dark hours, a Maestro of architecture has left us: an essayist, a critic, a professor, an editor in chief, a polemist, a man of the institutions, who – while always and firstly being an architect – has contributed to the history of our culture. E conceived architecture as a perspective: both across the globe and along life. A great sadness.”