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BBPR

BBPR. Architectural Partnership founded in Milan in 1932 by Gianluigi Banfi (1910–45), Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso (1909–2004), Enrico Peressutti (1908–76), and Ernesto Nathan Rogers. Like many Italian Modernists, BBPR backed Fascism, hoping it would continue to favour progressive architecture, and many early works are associated with the Fascist regime. The firm's Heliotherapy Clinic, Legnano (1937–8—now demolished), was an intelligent and sensitive design, while the restoration of the cloisters of the monastery of San Simpliciano, Milan (1940)—which included offices for the firm—was an eloquent testimony to a sympathy for historic buildings that ran counter to orthodox Modernism. As Fascist Italy became tightly bound to the Nazi Axis, any ‘progressive’ tendencies vanished in Italy, although BBPR managed to erect the Central Post Office Complex in the EUR Quarter of Rome (1940), the only building there not to succumb to the stripped Classicism of Piacentini: such bravado led to BBPR's falling from favour. After the 1939–45 war BBPR's search for a severe geometry that could yet express emotion led to the memorial erected in the Cimitero Monumentale, Milan (1946), to the victims of the concentration camps (Banfi himself had perished at Mauthausen). In 1954–6 the conversion of the Sforza Castle into a museum again demonstrated great sensitivity to older fabric, but the Torre Velasca, Milan (1954–8), with its projecting upper storeys, the whole reminiscent of a medieval tower, demonstrated a rejection of the rigid dogmas of International Modernism, bringing the wrath of American and British adherents of the party-line on BBPR for the allusive qualities of the building. Subsequently, the possibilities of exposed steelwork and glass were elegantly exploited on a curved frontage to great effect at the Chase Manhattan Bank, Milan (1969).

Bibliography

Belgiojoso (1979);
Morgan & Naylor (eds.) (1987);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Jane Turner (1996)

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