Gio Ponti

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Giovanni Ponti , called Gio, (born November 18, 1891 in Milan ; † September 16, 1979 ibid) was an Italian architect , designer and professor of architecture.


Pirelli high-rise , Milan 1956–58 (with Pier Luigi Nervi). Photo by Paolo Monti (Fondo Paolo Monti, BEIC).

Gio Ponti was born in Milan to Giovanna Rigone and Enrico Ponti. After attending the humanistic high school, he studied architecture at the Polytechnic in Milan from 1913 . Interrupted by the First World War, in which Ponti participated as a soldier, he was only able to complete his studies in 1921 with a diploma. In the same year he married Giulia Vimercati. This marriage resulted in four children: Lisa, Giovanna, Giulio and Letizia.

Ponti's first architectural orientation after his studies was the circle of the Milanese Neoclassicists (Novecento Milanese). In 1923 he became artistic director of the Richard-Ginori porcelain factory (until 1930) and since that year has been one of the founders of the Triennale in Monza.

In 1927 he opened his first architectural office in Milan, which he ran together with the architect Emilio Lancia until 1933. Together with him, he realized his first project in 1926, the “Casa Ponti” house in Via Randaccio 9 in Milan.

In 1928 Ponti founded the art, architecture and design magazine Domus together with Gianni Mazzocchi , which he ran - with interruptions between 1941 and 1947 - until his death. Domus became an important forum of Razionalismo in the first few years  - and Pontis anticipated a gradual change of course from Novecento Milanese to Razionalismo .

In 1933 he took over the management and organization of the 5th  Triennale in Milan. Three years later, in 1936, he received a professorship for interior design at the Polytechnic , where he taught from 1936 to 1961.

Ponti is one of the few architects in Italy who achieved international fame in the design of small everyday objects as well as in the design of large building construction projects.

Between 1933 and 1945 he designed a large number of buildings such as the mathematical faculty of the University of Rome from 1934. On behalf of the Italian Cultural Institute, he redesigned the interior of the Fürstenberg Palace in Vienna in 1936 in neo-secessionist style. In the same year Ponti received a call as a full professor at the architecture faculty of the Polytechnic in Milan, where he taught until 1961.

Ponti was initially among the Milanese neoclassicalists who joined forces in the 1920s to form the Novecento Milanese . His first creative phase was shaped by the influences of Otto Wagner, which he sought to combine with the emerging Razionalismo. With the designs for the three residential buildings Domus Julia, Fausta and Carola (1932–1936) in Milan, Ponti's turn to a moderate form of razionalismo was already evident.

This contrasts with the Primo Palazzo Montecatini office building, which was built almost at the same time and which Ponti built in 1936 with far stronger references to the Novecento in Milan. With this office building, Ponti wanted to create a Palazzo del Lavoro (Palace of Work) made of uniform window openings running in the facade level and curtained stone slabs. The result is a three-part structure with up to 15 storeys, which experiences its monumental effect through the generously opening gesture of the two ten-storey side wings. Serially arranged office rooms on both sides of an inner corridor and symmetrically positioned stairs and elevators for vertical access support the impression of a mechanization of the working world. Ponti meticulously calculated the size of the facade panels and the module of the glazing.

Ponti clearly resolved this rigor and uniform materiality when building the second office building for Montecatini, the Secondo Palazzo Montecatini , from 1952. The different influences from Novecento and Razionalismo can be clearly felt in this new building in the immediate vicinity. The concave curved main facade has a completely different facade design that works with projections and recesses: a delicate grid of narrow aluminum profiles is placed in front of the recessed glazing. The facade becomes three-dimensional and has a spatial depth. It is precisely this design principle that was often used by the protagonists of Razionalismo. From the uniformly polished facade of the Primo Palazzo, Ponti developed a play of projections and recesses and different materials in the Secondo Palazzo by contrasting large stone slabs with small mosaic stones.

In the post-war period, Gio Ponti gave Italian design a new boost. In 1948 he succeeded with the La Cornuta coffee machine , produced by the coffee machine manufacturer La Pavoni , a classic of Italian design. The Occasional Chairs for a transatlantic ocean liner were created based on his design . In 1957 he designed his most famous piece of furniture, the deliberately filigree Superleggera chair.

In 1958 he realized - together with Pier Luigi Nervi , Arturo Danusso u. a. - his most important architectural project, the Pirelli skyscraper in Milan. This building is one of the first skyscrapers in the world to break away from the basic shape of a parallelepiped, a pure, upright cuboid. With this clearly outlined, finite form, which was drawn by clear contours, Ponti tried to break away from the grid cubature that was known until then and could be continued at will. The two narrow sides of the 127 meter high Pirelli skyscraper converge to a point, similar to a ship's bow. The two massive end pieces contain the side stairs, elevators and the vertical supply lines. The innovative supporting structure of the high-rise, which has been tested in several model tests, allows an office zone that is largely column-free and thus enables a high degree of flexibility in terms of internal organization.

From 1966 to 1971, Ponti built the Denver Art Museum , whose conspicuously narrow and irregularly open facades consist of more than a million glass tiles. Ponti's only project in the USA is considered to be one of the first consistently vertical museums in the world. From 2003 to 2006, the Denver Art Museum was expanded to include Daniel Libeskind's Hamilton Building . Financed by a donation from Anna and John J. Sie in the amount of 12 million US dollars, the construction of an additional Welcome Center is planned, which will be directly connected to Ponti's museum building. In 2021, for the 50th anniversary of the Denver Art Museum, this new part of the building should be completed.

Ponti died on September 16, 1979 in the house (Casa Ponti) he had built in 1957 at Via Dezza 49 in Milan, where he had lived since then. This building also houses his estate and archive, which is managed by his grandson, designer Salvatore Licitra . Together with Ponti's great-granddaughter Caterina Licitra, he campaigns for the preservation of the Ponti buildings, most recently for the Villa Namazee in Tehran , Iran, which has been threatened with demolition .

Important buildings

  • 1926 "Casa Ponti" house in Via Randaccio 9 in Milan with Emilio Lancia
  • 1928 Monument to the Fallen on the Piazza Sant'Ambrogio in Milan with Giovanni Muzio a. a.
  • 1933 Torre Littoria observation tower in Milan
  • 1934 Mathematical Faculty of the University of Rome
  • 1936 Primo Palazzo Montecatini office building in Milan
  • 1937 Hotel Paradiso del Cevedale in Martell Valley , South Tyrol
  • 1952 Secondo Palazzo Montecatini office building in Milan
  • 1955 Villa Planchart in Caracas
  • 1956 Villa Arreaza in Caracas
  • 1957 House on Via Dezza in Milan
  • 1958 Pirelli high-rise in Milan with Pier Luigi Nervi , Arturo Danusso a. a.
  • 1962 Hotel Parco dei Principi in Sorrento
  • 1964 Church of St. Francis Fopponino in Milan
  • 1964 Villa Nemazee in Tehran
  • 1967 Church for the San Carlo Borromeo Hospital in Milan
  • 1971 Taranto Concattedrale
  • 1971 Denver Art Museum in Denver

Important design objects

  • 1931 "0024" pendant lamp for Fontana Arte
  • 1937 "Livia" chair for the "Livianum" Faculty of Literature at the University of Padua
  • 1948 "La Cornuta" coffee machine for La Pavoni
  • 1950 "Attesa" sofa for L'Abbate
  • 1953 "807 Distex" armchair for Cassina
  • 1957 "Superleggera 669" chair for Cassina
  • 1966 Bathroom ceramics for Ideal Standard


  • Graziella Roccella: Gio Ponti. Master of ease . Taschen-Verlag, Cologne 2009, ISBN 978-3-8365-0035-7
  • Marco Romanelli, Lisa Licitra Ponti (eds.): Gio Ponti. A World , Abitare Segesta, Milan 2003
  • Lisa Licitra Ponti: Gio Ponti. The Complete Work, 1928-1978 . MIT Press, Cambridge MA 1990

Web links

Commons : Gio Ponti  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ House Casa Ponti in Via Randaccio 9. In: Retrieved February 17, 2017 (Italian).
  3. Alexander Hosch: Reunion with Gios Castle. In: domus , issue 15-017, January / February 2016, p. 40.
  4. ^ Post about the new Welcome Center of the Denver Art Museum on
  5. ^ Gio Ponti official website , accessed March 30, 2017
  6. ^ New Design Collaboration , accessed March 30, 2017
  7. Saeed Kamali Dehghan: Iranian architects fight to save Gio Ponti villa from bulldozers . In The Guardian on December 13, 2016, accessed March 30, 2017
  8. Florian Siebeck: Mistakes with consequences . In FAZ , January 10, 2017, accessed on March 30, 2017
  9. Caterina Licitra Ponti's Instagram channel: UPDATE on Villa Nemazee by #GioPonti. We are making a difference! ... ( Memento of the original from May 6, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed March 30, 2017 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. ^ Scuola di Matematica. In: , (Italian).
  11. La Scuola di Matematica. In: , (Italian).
  12. ^ Chiesa di San Carlo Borromeo presso l'Ospedale. In: Retrieved April 3, 2015 (Italian).