Piacentini, Marcello

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Piacentini, Marcello (1881–1960). Italian architect, the son of Pio Piacentini (1846–1928), who was one of the leading architects in Rome in the first fifty years after Italian Unification (1861–71). Pio's works included the Palazzo delle Esposizioni (1880–2), Palazzo Sforza Cesarini (1886–8), and the Ministero di Grazia e Giustizia (1913–20), all in Rome, and all thoroughly competent eclectic buildings.

Marcello established his reputation with the Villa Allegri, Rome (1915–17), the Cinema ‘al Corso’, Rome (1915–17), the Palace of Justice, Messina (1912–28), and the centre of the Garden City Garbatella, Rome (1920). His designs of that time were academically sound and eclectically based. He became Professor of Architecture at Rome in 1920, and, in 1921, with Gustavo Giovannoni (1873–1947), founded the journal L'Architettura of which he was Chief Editor (1922–43) and was influential in promoting the work of younger architects, including those associated with Rationalism. When Benito Mussolini (1883–1945) came to power (1922), Piacentini became the leading protagonist of a stripped Neo-Classicism that was to be virtually the style of State Architecture under Fascism. In fact, he rose to such a position of influence that he has been called ‘Mussolini's Albert Speer’. He was no mean architect, as his Hotel Ambasciatori, Rome (1926–7), shows in its powerful Mannerist façade. Other significant works of the time include the splendid mausoleum of Marshal Count Luigi Cadorna (1850–1928), Pallanza (1929–30), the formal Piazza della Vittoria, Brescia (1927–32), the War Memorials at Genoa (1927–34) and Bolzano (1926–8), the clearing and redevelopment of the area around the Mausoleum of Augustus, Rome (1934), the Casa Madre dei Mutilati, Rome (1928), the stripped Classical Palace of Justice, Milan (1933–40), and the Grattacielo dell' Orologio in the Piazza Dante, Genoa (1937–41). In 1933 he commenced (with Attilio Spaccarelli (1890–1975)) the Via della Conciliazione that opened up the vista from Bernini's Piazza di San Pietro, and has been criticized since for its insensitivity to Bernini's intentions as well as for the destruction of historic buildings to facilitate its construction (completed 1950). Piacentini was responsible for the general plan of the Città Universitaria, Rome (1932–5), and designed the stripped Classical Administration Building (1932–3). He worked with Pagano, Piccinato, and others on the planning of the Esposizione Universale di Roma (EUR) for the projected E42 exhibition (which did not occur because of the 1939–45 war) and worked with Nervi on the Palazzo dello Sport, Rome (1958–9). His Architettura d'oggi (Architecture Today—1930) was admired at the time, and he also published a work on the buildings of Rome from 1870 until the post-1939–45 war period (1952). It is an indictment of architectural commentators that Piacentini has had what is called a ‘bad press’, unlike the treatment given to convinced Fascists such as Pagano and Terragni.


Accasto et al. (1971);
Etlin (1991);
Gavin Stamp ;
Lupano (1991);
Meeks (1966);
Patetta (1972);
Piacentini (1930);
A. Pica (1936);
M. Pisani (ed.) (1996);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Portoghesi (1968);
A. Rose (1995);
Scarrocchia (1999);
Seta (1978);
Jane Turner (1996);
Zevi (1973)