Pier Luigi Nervi

Pier Luigi Nervi (21 June 1891 – 9 January 1979) was an Italian engineer and architect. He studied at the University of Bologna graduating in 1913. Nervi taught as a professor of engineering at Rome University from 1946 to 1961 and is known worldwide as a structural engineer and architect and for his innovative use of reinforced concrete.

Pier Luigi Nervi
Pier Luigi Nervi
Born21 June 1891
Died9 January 1979 (aged 87)
EducationUniversity of Bologna
Engineering career
DisciplineStructural engineer
InstitutionsSociety for Concrete Construction
Institution of Structural Engineers
ProjectsOlympic Stadium in Rome (1960)
UNESCO headquarters in Paris (1950)
Hangar in Orvieto (1935)
AwardsIStructE Gold Medal
Wilhelm Exner Medal (1957)
AIA Gold Medal (1964)


Pier Luigi Nervi was born in Sondrio and attended the Civil Engineering School of Bologna from which he graduated in 1913; his formal education was quite similar to that experienced today by Italian civil engineering students. After graduating he joined the Society for Concrete Construction and, during World War I from 1915 to 1918, he served in the Corps of Engineering of the Italian Army. From 1961 to 1962 he was the Norton professor at Harvard University.

Civil engineering works

Nervi began practicing civil engineering after 1923. His projects in the 1930s included several airplane hangars that were important for his development as an engineer. A set of hangars in Orvieto (1935) were built entirely out of reinforced concrete, and a second set in Orbetello and Torre del Lago (1939) improved the design by using a lighter roof, precast ribs, and a modular construction method.[1]

During the 1940s he developed ideas for reinforced concrete which helped in the rebuilding of many buildings and factories throughout Western Europe, and even designed and created a boat hull that was made of reinforced concrete as a promotion for the Italian government.

Nervi also stressed that intuition should be used as much as mathematics in design, especially with thin shell structures. He borrowed from both Roman and Renaissance architecture while applying ribbing and vaulting to improve strength and eliminate columns. He combined simple geometry and prefabrication to innovate design solutions.

Engineer and architect

Pier Luigi Nervi was educated and practised as a ingegnere edile (translated as "building engineer") – in Italy, at the time (and to a lesser degree also today), a building engineer might also be considered an architect. After 1932, his aesthetically pleasing designs were used for major projects. This was due to the booming number of construction projects at the time which used concrete and steel in Europe and the architecture aspect took a step back to the potential of engineering. Nervi successfully made reinforced concrete the main structural material of the day. Nervi expounded his ideas on building in four books (see below) and many learned papers.

Archeological excavations suggested that he may have some responsibilities for the Flaminio stadium foundations passing through ancient Roman tombs.[2]

International projects

Most of his built structures are in his native Italy, but he also worked on projects abroad. Nervi's first project in the United States was the George Washington Bridge Bus Station. He designed the roof which consists of triangle pieces which were cast in place. This building is still used today by over 700 buses and their passengers.

Noted works

The Tour de la Bourse in Montreal (1964)


Pier Luigi Nervi was awarded Gold Medals by the Institution of Structural Engineers in the UK, the American Institute of Architects (AIA Gold Medal 1964) and the RIBA.

In 1957, received the Frank P. Brown Medal of The Franklin Institute and the Wilhelm Exner Medal.


  • Scienza o arte del costruire? Bussola, Rome, 1945.
  • Costruire correttamente, Hoepli, Milan, 1954.
  • Structures, Dodge, New York, 1958.
  • Aesthetics and Technology in Building. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard, 1966.

See also


  1. ^ Leslie, Thomas (3 January 2014). "nervi hangars". architecturefarm. Archived from the original on 2014-01-29. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  2. ^ Six Nations 2011: Stadio Flaminio dig to reveal Roman 'City of the Dead' at guardian.co.uk

External links

1960 in architecture

The year 1960 in architecture involved some significant architectural events and new buildings.

Alexander Buchanan Campbell

Alexander Buchanan Campbell (14 June 1914 – 13 May 2007) was a Scottish architect. He was born in Findochty, Scotland.

He studied at the Glasgow School of Art (where he later taught) and was apprenticed to the firm of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia.

One of Buchanan Campbell's most notable works was the Dollan Baths complex in East Kilbride (opened 1968). Influenced by the Beaux-Arts style, his time with Coia and works of Pier Luigi Nervi and Kenzo Tange, the significance of Buchanan Campbell's Dollan Baths was recognised when Historic Scotland listed it as Category A in 2002.

Other significant work includes Craigie College, Ayr and alterations to Gillespie, Kidd and Coia's Notre Dame College in Bearsden, Glasgow.

In 1995 Buchanan Campbell gifted his papers to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

He was married to Sheila (Neville- Smith) Campbell, they had one daughter, Alexis Louise Leech, and one son, Euan Buchanan Campbell.

Australia Square

Australia Square Tower is an office and retail complex in the central business district of Sydney. Its main address is 264 George Street, and the Square is bounded on the northern side by Bond Street, eastern side by Pitt Street and southern side by Curtin Place.

The building was first conceived in 1961, and its final design by Harry Seidler & Associates was in 1964 after collaboration with structural engineer Pier Luigi Nervi. Today, it remains a landmark building in Sydney and is regarded as iconic to Australian architecture. It has even been described as the most beautiful building in Australia. The outstanding feature of the Square is the Tower Building which from its completion in 1967 until 1976 was the tallest building in Sydney.Australia Square is jointly owned by the GPT Group and Dexus. During the mid-1990s the building was completely refurbished. Another $11 million refurbishment program, which included replacing all paving in public areas with Italian porphyry paving stone, new lighting and outdoor tables was conducted in 2003.

Embassy of Australia, Paris

The Australian Embassy in Paris is located 400 metres southwest of the Eiffel Tower, on Rue Jean Rey in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, near the Bir-Hakeim bridge on the Seine. The embassy is situated on a triangular shaped block, and comprises a pair of nine-storey buildings. The Chancellery Building houses Australia's missions to France, to UNESCO and to the OECD, and the apartment of the ambassador to France; the other building contains 34 staff apartments, all with views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower.The embassy, and several pieces of its original furniture, were designed in a modernist style by Australian architect Harry Seidler, with Marcel Breuer and Pier Luigi Nervi as consulting designers. Like many of Seidler's other works, the Embassy was built from precast modularised concrete, with a quartz and granite faced exterior and prestressed precast floors. Its two buildings are curved to form two quarter circles, the two arcs of an "S"-shaped complex, with the radii of the circles lined up to match the axes of the Eiffel Tower and the Champ de Mars.The land for the embassy, that was a part of the disused railway depot near the old station of the Champ de Mars, was purchased by the McMahon government of Australia in 1972. Construction started on the Embassy in 1975, and it was completed in 1977.

Former headquarters of Banca Monte Parma

The former Sede Centrale della Banca del Monte di Parma was the headquarters of Banca Monte Parma, located in the corner of Piazzale Battisti and Strada Cavour in central Parma, Emilia-Romagna region, Italy. In 1978 the headquarters was moved to 1 Palazzo Sanvitale. The location on 3/A Strada Cavour remained as the main branch in the city. Since 2015 the building became a branch of Intesa Sanpaolo.

The Modernist-style building with an exterior of white marble and vertical windows was built in 1968-1974. The architects were a collaboration between Pier Luigi Nervi, Giovanni Ponti, Antonio Fornaroli, and Alberto Rosselli.

Gold Medal of the Institution of Structural Engineers

The Gold Medal of the Institution of Structural Engineers is awarded by the Institution of Structural Engineers for exceptional and outstanding contributions to the advancement of structural engineering. It was established in 1922.

Good Hope Centre

The Good Hope Centre in Cape Town, South Africa (1976) by Pier Luigi Nervi, is an exhibition hall and conference centre, with the exhibition hall comprising an arch with tie-beam on each of the four vertical facades and two diagonal arches supporting two intersecting barrel-like roofs which in turn were constructed from pre-cast concrete triangular coffers with in-situ concrete beams on the edges.

Josef Týfa

Josef Týfa (5 December 1913 – 19 January 2007) was a Czech type designer. He significantly contributed to the cultivation of corporate style and the development of book design and advertising in the 1950s and 60s. Typefaces he designed include: Kolektiv, Tyfa, Juvenis, Amos and Academia, many of which he digitized with František Štorm, founder of Storm Type Foundry. He has indicated that his influences include Jaroslav Benda, Pier Luigi Nervi, and modern graphic design and architecture including functionalism.

Myron Goldsmith

Myron Goldsmith (September 15, 1918 – July 15, 1996) was an American architect and designer. He was a student of Mies van der Rohe and Pier Luigi Nervi before designing 40 projects at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill from 1955 to 1983. His last 16 years at the firm he was a general partner in its Chicago office. His best known project is the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope building constructed in 1962 at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. It is visited by an estimated 100,000 people a year.

Norfolk Scope

Norfolk Scope is a multi-function complex in Norfolk, Virginia, comprising an 11,000-person arena, a 2,500-person theater known as Chrysler Hall, a 10,000 square foot-exhibition hall and a 600-car parking garage.

The arena was designed by Italian architect/engineer Pier Luigi Nervi in conjunction with the (now defunct) local firm Williams and Tazewell, which designed the entire complex. Nervi's design for the arena's reinforced concrete dome derived from the PalaLottomatica and the much smaller Palazzetto dello Sport, which were built in the 1950s for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

Construction on Scope began in June 1968 at the northern perimeter of Norfolk's downtown and was completed in 1971 at a cost of $35 million. Federal funds covered $23 million of the cost, and when it opened formally on November 12, 1971, the structure was the second-largest public complex in Virginia, behind only the Pentagon.Featuring the world's largest reinforced thinshell concrete dome

(though eclipsed by the Seattle Seattle Kingdome from 1972 to 2000), Scope won the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects Test of Time award in 2003. Wes Lewis, director of Old Dominion University's civil engineering technology program, called it "a beautiful marrying of art and engineering." Noted architectural critic James Howard Kunstler described the design as looking like "yesterday's tomorrow."The name "Scope", a contraction of kaleidoscope, emphasizes the venue's re-configurability. The facility logo (right), which features a multi-colored, abstracted kaleidoscope image, was designed by Raymond Loewy's firm Loewy/Snaith of New York.

Paul VI Audience Hall

The Paul VI Audience Hall (Italian: Aula Paolo VI) also known as the Hall of the Pontifical Audiences is a building in Rome named for Pope Paul VI with a seating capacity of 6,300, designed in reinforced concrete by the Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi and completed in 1971. It was constructed on land donated by the Knights of Columbus.It lies partially in the Vatican City but mostly in Italy: the Italian part of the building is treated as an extraterritorial area of the Holy See and is used by the Pope as an alternative to Saint Peter's Square when conducting his Wednesday morning General Audience. It is dominated by an 800-quintal (8 metric ton) bronze/copper-alloy sculpture by Pericle Fazzini entitled La Resurrezione (Italian for The Resurrection). A smaller meeting hall, known as Synod Hall (Aula del Sinodo), is located in the building as well. This hall sits at the east end on a second floor.

Sacro Cuore, Florence

The Chiesa del Sacro Cuore (Church of the Sacred Heart) is located in Via Capo di Mondo in Florence.

Ludovico da Casoria, a Franciscan priest, founder of the Congregation of Frati Bigi, had the church built between 1874 and 1877, on the model of San Salvatore al Monte. The church is situated in Firenze (Campo di Marte). In 1941 it became a parish church and the building was completely restructured by the architect Lando Bartoli between 1956 and 1962. For the extremely modern bell tower the architect was assisted by Pier Luigi Nervi. There is a stained glass window of the Resurrection by Marcello Avelani, bronze doors and ceramic saints by Angelo Biancini, mosaic Stations of the Cross by Giovanni Haynal, a cruzifix by Umberto Bartoli, a 16th-century Madonna and Child, a Last Supper by Giovanni Stradano and the Apparition of the Sacred Heart by Antonio Ciseri (1880).

Sagrada Família Schools

The Sagrada Família Schools (Catalan: Escoles de la Sagrada Família, Spanish: Escuelas de la Sagrada Familia) building was constructed in 1909 by the modern Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí near the site of the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Sagrada Família. It was a small school building for the children of the workers building the Sagrada Familia although other children of the neighborhood attended, especially from the underprivileged classes.

The building has a rectangular footprint of 10 m (33 ft) by 20 m (66 ft), and contains three classrooms, a hall, and a chapel, with lavatories in an addition to the building. The construction was done with a brick facade, in three overlapping layers, following the Catalan technical tradition. Both the walls and the roof have a wavy form, that gives the structure a sensation of lightness but, at the same time, great strength. On the exterior three areas intended as open-air classrooms were covered with iron pergolas.

The building has been seen as an example of constructive genius and has served as a source of inspiration for many architects for its simplicity, stamina, original volume, functionality, and geometrical purity. Its undulating form has been applied by architects like Le Corbusier, Pier Luigi Nervi, Felix Candela, and Santiago Calatrava.

Silvio Canevazzi

Silvio Canevazzi (16 March 1852, Saliceta San Giuliano, suburb of Modena – 13 March 1918, Bologna) was an Italian civil engineer and applied mathematician.Canevazzi studied at the mathematics faculty of the University of Modena from 1868 to 1870 and then at the Polytechnic University of Milan, where he graduated in 1873 with a degree in civil engineering. In 1873 he was appointed an assistant to the professor in the chair of applied mechanics in civil engineering at the Sapienza University of Rome, and then an assistant to the chair of construction of bridges and roads. In 1875 he won a competition in engineering sponsored by the royal corps of mining engineers and was sent by the Italian ministry of agriculture to study at the school of mines in Liège, where he graduated in 1877. In 1877, Cesare Razzaboni, who was organizing a school of engineering (Scuola di applicazione per ingegneri) in Bologna, invited Canevazzi to take charge of applied mechanics in civil engineering. In that academic post at Bologna, Canevazzi in 1880 was appointed to the chair of bridge construction and civil engineering hydraulics and also to the chair of applied mechanics in civil engineering. He held the two academic chairs until his death. In 1889 he was appointed the director of the academic department to which his two academic chairs were subordinated. In 1911 he was appointed director of the school of engineering in Bologna.Canevazzi's research dealt with molecular equilibria in static mechanics, applications of the Menabrea theorem in elasticity, and studies of reinforced concrete. He developed a new method of calculating static stresses for buildings in earthquake zones. His method influenced building codes for earthquake resistance. Canevazzi, in collaboration with Cesare Ghillini, did important research on mechanical stresses on the human skeleton, particularly the femur. Their research was useful in the design of prosthetic limbs.He was an Invited Speaker of the ICM in 1908 in Rome. Pier Luigi Nervi was his student.

Stadio Artemio Franchi

The Stadio Artemio Franchi is a football stadium in Florence, Italy. It is currently the home of ACF Fiorentina. The stadium was temporarily noticed as the host of Italy's Six Nations matches from 2012. The old nickname of the stadium was "Comunale." When it was first constructed, it was known as the Stadio Giovanni Berta, after a Florentine fascist.

The stadium was officially opened on 13 September 1931 with a match between Fiorentina and Admira Wien (1-0), though it took until 1932 for the stadium to be completely finished and currently holds 47,282. The architect is Pier Luigi Nervi (known for the Nervi Hall in the Vatican) and it is one of the most relevant examples of 20th-century architecture in the city.The stadium is built entirely of reinforced concrete with a 70-meter (230 ft) tower that bears the stadium's flagstaff. The tower is called the "Tower of Marathon". Around the base of the tower, spiral ramps lead from the ground floor to the upper edge of the grandstand.It hosted some of the matches of the 1934 World Cup, as well as football preliminaries for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. In 1945, it hosted the Spaghetti Bowl between American service teams.

The stadium was originally called the "Comunale" but was renamed after the former FIGC president, Artemio Franchi, in 1991.

The stadium itself underwent renovations for the 1990 FIFA World Cup which included removing the running track and increasing the seating capacity. At the World Cup, the ground hosted three matches in Group A and Argentina's penalty shootout win over Yugoslavia in the quarter-finals.The official record attendance is 58,271 on 25 November 1984, at a Serie A match between Fiorentina and Internazionale.

Stadio Flaminio

The Stadio Flaminio is a stadium in Rome. It lies along the Via Flaminia, three kilometres northwest of the city centre, 300 metres away from the Parco di Villa Glori.

The interior spaces include a covered swimming pool, rooms for fencing, amateur wrestling, weightlifting, boxing and gymnastics.

Thompson Arena

Rupert C. Thompson Arena is a 3,500-seat hockey arena in Hanover, New Hampshire. It is home to the Dartmouth College Big Green men's and women's ice hockey teams. The barrel-vaulted, reinforced concrete arena was designed by renowned architect Pier Luigi Nervi. It was named for Rupert C. Thompson '28, the major benefactor of the project, and replaced Davis Rink, the original "indoor" home of Dartmouth hockey from 1929 to 1975. (Davis Rink, which was located next to old Alumni Gym, was demolished in 1985 to make way for the Berry Sports Center.)

Torino Esposizioni

Torino Esposizioni is an exhibition hall and convention centre in Turin, Italy which was primarily completed in 1948, designed by Pier Luigi Nervi. The building is made with primarily ferrocemento and glass. Ferrocemento is a form of concrete construction made with thin cross-sections of concrete and metal wires (reinforcement) with re-usable forms, which Nervi pioneered in Italy and elsewhere.

Tour de la Bourse

The Tour de la Bourse (English: Stock Exchange Tower) is a 48-storey skyscraper in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is located at the intersection of Victoria Square and Saint Jacques Street in the International Quarter. It is connected by the underground city to the Square-Victoria-OACI Metro Station.

When completed in 1964, the tower was the tallest building in Canada, a title it held until surpassed by the Toronto-Dominion Centre in 1967. It is currently the third tallest in Montreal and the twenty-fifth tallest building in the country. The Tour de la Bourse was designed by Luigi Moretti and Pier Luigi Nervi and is considered to be of the International Style.

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