Commemorating Pier Luigi Nervi: Italian Engineer and Architect

“The most brilliant artist in reinforced concrete of our time” is how one architectural historian described structural engineer Pier Luigi Nervi (1891 – 1979). Indeed, he is considered one of the greatest and most inventive structural engineers of the 20th century. Antonio Nanni, professor and chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, recently published an article with two collaborators about Nervi and an international exhibition celebrating this engineer’s legacy.

Nanni collaborated with Christina Chiorino, an architect with a PhD in conservation of modern architectural heritage and in history of architecture, and with Theodore J. Smulski, a senior structural engineer at Newark, Delaware-based DEDC who has more than 30 years of design experience. The article was published in August’s issue of Concrete International, the magazine of the American Concrete Institute, which reaches more than 25,000 hardcopy subscribers.

Bringing together their academic and industry experience, and the disciplines of engineering and architecture, the authors shared Nervi’s story. This multifaceted individual is known as a designer, builder, researcher and creator of new construction techniques. Working during a glorious period in structural architecture, he created masterpieces all over the world; some of his most important and iconic works are in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

Chiorino recently curated a new international exhibition honoring Nervi’s legacy. The authors described the exhibition’s creation, including delving into some of the technical work, research and logistics. The exhibition, titled “Pier Luigi Nervi – Art and Science of Building,” is a lighter version of an original exhibition, “Pier Luigi Nervi – Architecture as Challenge.” The new exhibition was presented by ComunicArch Associates, in association with the PLN Project. It was created for a more extended international and intercontinental tour than the original.

On October 22, 2016, “Pier Luigi Nervi – Art and Science of Building” was exhibited for the first time in North America, at the American Concrete Institute’s convention in Philadelphia. The exhibition incorporates high-resolution reproductions of the original drawings of the Nervi projects and educational videos about Nervi’s life and work. With Nanni’s leadership and coordination, the exhibition will come to the UM School of Architecture October 7-28, with the Italian General Consulate of Miami as a sponsor.

To read the authors’ article in its entirety, please click here.

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