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  4. The ages of the skyscraper: on display the history of the Pirelli Tower

Source: exhibition "The ages of the skyscraper", La Triennale di Milano

| Designbest editorial staff


ho doesn’t know of the Pirelli Tower? Best known simply as the “Pirellone”, the Pirelli Tower is a symbol of the industrial age of the city of Milan, as well as being an important architectural masterpiece. It was commissioned in the fifties by the Pirelli Company, world-class tyre and cable manufacturers, to a team which included names the calibre of Gio Ponti and Pier Luigi Nervi. What’s more, in occasion of the XXI Triennale International Exhibition, a new exhibition illustrates the history of this building: Le età del grattacielo: il Pirelli a sessant’anni dalla posa della prima pietra (lit. The ages of the skyscraper: the Pirelli Tower sixty years after laying the foundation stone).

Le età del grattacielo shines a remarkable light on a truly innovative building. It could almost be compared to a living creature, who evolves as time goes by and needs constant care and attention. The life of the Pirelli Tower can be divided in four different phases: constructed in an abandoned industrial site, it instantly became the emblem of a rapidly changing city and for a long time, it was even headquarters to the Lombardy Region.

It took ten years for the project to be completed (12 July 1956 – 4 April 1960). The designated site was the Brusada, the original location of the Pirelli factory, which suffered severe bombing during the Second World War. However, the completion of the Pirelli Tower was coldly received by the architecture critics of the time, nonetheless the local population showed instant fondness, welcoming the building as a source of inspiration for other skyscrapers.

The latter part of the sixties ushers in the second age of the “Pirellone”. It changed from private to public hands, becoming headquarters to the Lombardy region and during this time, its interiors were extensively renovated. This phase lasted until the beginning of the new millennium, 2002 to be more precise, a date marred by a terrible plane crash, which also marks the end of the building’s third phase.  

However, the rebirth of the Pirelli Tower didn’t wait long in coming: its fourth phase is marked by the extensive refurbishment of this masterpiece of modern Italian architecture.

The exhibition itinerary takes us around different panels full of photographs, documents and quotes divided in four different areas. They are illustrated by four images which represent the twenty-sixth floor of remembrance, where the 2002 crash took place. In fact, the evocative strength of these images accompany us through the building’s 60 year-long history: amid emotions, memories, hints and thoughts on one of the most iconic buildings of Milan, emblem of modern Italian architecture.

Where: Palazzo Pirelli, 22 via Fabio Filzi, Milan, Italy
When: ongoing - 11 September 2016



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