Piero Portaluppi (1888–1967)
Portaluppi was a student of Gaetano Moretti in the School of Architecture of Politecnico di Milano, where he graduated in 1910. From 1919, he was an assistant professor; a full professor of Architectural Composition from 1936; and Head of the School of Architecture from 1939 to 1963. His close relationship with his father-in-law, Ettore Conti, played a part in his work between 1912 and 1930 on many power plants along the Alps, which were immediately considered as the epitome of modernity: the most renowned were in Verampio (1912-1917), Valdo (1920-1923), Crevoladossola (1923-1924), and Cadarese (1925-1929). With his professional career and his hometown of Milan being closely tied, he was responsible for many public and private buildings there, including: a building with an archway on Corso Venezia (1926-30), the Planetario Hoepli planetarium (1929-30), Palazzo INA in Piazza Diaz (1932-37), Villa Necchi Campiglio (1932-35), the former headquarters of the Federazione dei Fasci Milanesi (Milan Fascist Federation, 1935-40), Arengario (1937-42, with Enrico Agostino Griffini, Pier Giulio Magistretti, and Giovanni Muzio) and the restoration of the Casa degli Atellani (1919-21), Pinacoteca di Brera (1919-25), and the Santa Maria delle Grazie church (1929-48). In 1920, he developed two projects characterised by his architectural idiosyncrasy and sceptical view on modernity and urbanism: the New York skyscraper for a shadowy company whose name (S.K.N.E. or “run from them” when spelt out in Italian) appears to be a tongue-in-cheek warning, and the housing blocks of the Allabanuel district (a name that sums up the spirit of the project when read back-to-front in Italian- L’è una balla, it is hogwash). These were followed in 1926 by a project for the Utopian (and infernal) city of Hellytown. In the same year, alongside Marco Semenza, he won the tender for the Milan City Plan. Three years later, confirming his established reputation across Italy, he was called on to design the Italian pavilion for the International Exposition in Barcelona. After the Second World War, he completed works on a number of key historical buildings in Milan: Brera (1946-1963), the monastery of San Vittore/the Museum of Science and Technology (1947-1953), the Ospedale Maggiore hospital-the Università Statale campus (from 1949), and the Piccola Scala theatre (1949-1955). An eclectic character, Portaluppi was also a satirical illustrator for some Milan magazines - Varietas, L’Uomo di Pietra, Guerin Meschino – an amateur film-maker, and designer and collector of sundials.
The selection of materials displayed here consists of photographs from the archives of Fondazione Piero Portaluppi (elevations and photomontages) of two projects for Rinascente. The first, dating from 1928-1929, involved the refurbishment of the top section of the street-facing façade, with the elevation of one floor and the expansion of the building into Via Santa Radegonda, accessible by an aerial walkway. In the second project, from 1940, Portaluppi designed a new section adjoining the Church of San Raffaele, and a rearrangement of the façade facing Via Santa Radegonda.
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