escribed by Nikolaus Pevsner as “the mostbrilliant artist in reinorced concrete o our time,”Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-1979) (Fig. 1) was one o the greatest and most inventive designers and builders o the 20th century. He shared the cultures o architects andengineers, operating at the very intersection between theart and the science o building. With his masterpiecesscattered the world over, Nervi contributed to the creationo a glorious period or structural architecture.His personality comprised many acets, includingdesigner, builder, researcher, and creator o new construc-tion techniques. He was also a Proessor and Lecturerat prestigious universities around the world and authoro books debating the conceptual and technologicalundaments o construction, with particular regard toconcrete construction.He has been described as having an engineer’s auda-ciousness, an architect’s imagination, and a business-man’s practical realism. His use o the most advancedtechnical solutions always went hand-in-hand not only with the pursuit o ormal elegance but also with anequally strong attention to the technical and economicaspects o the building process.In 2009, on the 30th anniversary o Nervi’s death, abroad research and educational program was promoted with the intent o disseminating Nervi’s cultural legacyand exploring the complexity o his extraordinary statureas a structural artist. The program culminated in theinternational traveling exhibition, “Pier Luigi Nervi–Architecture as Challenge,” highlighting some o hismost celebrated works o genius. This article presents abrie synthesis o this comprehensive exploration o hislie’s work. It also serves as a preview to presentations atthe International Lunch and two technical sessions atthe ACI Spring 2012 Convention in Dallas, TX.
The International Exhibition: Pier LuigiNervi—Architecture as Challenge
A broad research-educational program on Nervi’slie and work started in 2009, and it culminated in theinternational traveling exhibition, “Pier Luigi Nervi—Architecture as Challenge.” The work was promoted bythe Pier Luigi Nervi Project Association (PLN),
theoundation devoted to the dessimination o Nervi’scultural legacy. The program has the scientic supporto the Politecnico di Torino, the University o Rome,and La Cambre-Horta School o Architecture o theUniversity o Brussels. The exhibition was organizedby PLN and the Centre International pour la Ville etl’Architecture (CIVA), Brussels, in cooperation with theItalian National Museum o the Arts o the 21st Centuryin Rome (MAXXI) and the Study Center and Commu-nication Archive (CSAC) o the University o Parma,Italy, under the auspices o the President o the ItalianRepublic and o other prominent institutions, includingthe Vatican City, the European community, and theInternational Olympic Committee. ACI co-sponsoredthe exhibition in recognition o the ACI HonoraryMembership awarded to Nervi in 1969 and in consid-eration o the signicant number o his celebrated works in North America.Accompanied by a catalog assembling the resultso the research program,
the exhibition started itsextremely successul tour in Brussels, Belgium, in 2010.The subsequent venues in Italy included the VeniceBiennale, the MAXXI, and the Turin Exhibition Hall—abuilding designed by Nervi himsel (as shown in Fig. 8).Aer visiting other venues in Denmark, Germany, andSwitzerland, the exhibition is expected to visit venuesin North America in 2013. On this occasion, the reprintby PLN o the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures given byNervi at Harvard
in 1961 will be available.On the eve o the North American tour, it is appropri-ate to dedicate presentations to Pier Luigi Nervi duringsessions on “Structural Concrete: An Art Form” at theACI Spring 2012 Convention in Dallas, TX, in March,particularly because the general convention theme is “Arto Concrete.” The author will deliver the keynote lecture,bearing the same title as this article, at the convention’sInternational Lunch. In two technical sessions, addi-tional speakers will review the work o other eminentpioneers and discuss recent trends in the merging o architecture and structural engineering.
Pier Luigi Nervi: Architecture as Challenge
, C. Olmo andC. Chiorino, eds., Silvana Editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo, Italy,2010, 240 pp.
Aesthetics and Technology in Buildings
, The CharlesEliot Norton Lectures, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA,1965, 210 pp.
Fig. 1: ACI Honorary Member Pier Luigi Nervi, 1891-1979