Herzog & de Meuron in Milan

Editorial Line


Publishers and communications media have traditionally paid close attention to their public corporate image, and have banked on internationally prestigious architects to give that image material form. Suffice it to remember the mythical competition for the Chicago Tribune, Oscar Niemeyer’s brilliant project for Mondadori in Turin, or, more recently, Renzo Piano’s for The New York Times. Feltrinelli, the Italian publishing conglomerate founded by an aristocrat who sympathized with extreme left groups – can congratulate itself for continuing the tradition through a new center for its foundation in the city of Milan, designed by the Swiss partnership Herzog & de Meuron. When tackling corporate buildings, the Basel-based architects tend to go for moderation and simplicity, and for the headquarters of the Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli they have stuck to this tendency. The almost 15,000 square meters of floor area are distributed in two narrow-bay buildings characterized by the implacable rigor of structural ribs of exposed reinforced concrete, and whose sections evoke a kind of primitive hut. This gesture is a reference to traditional constructions of the Lombardy region, but also to Aldo Rossi, master to Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Identical in bays and facades, the two buildings of the foundation straddle the Porta Volta – where one of the important entrances into Milan, through its old wall, was located – to make room, in the gap, for a new virtual and civic gate into the heart of town from the north.

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