Marcello Piacentini

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Marcello Piacentini in the uniform of the Accademia d'Italia

Marcello Piacentini (born December 8, 1881 in Rome , † May 19, 1960 in Rome) was an Italian architect who became Mussolini's first "state architect" during the fascist regime . In clear contrast to Albert Speer and his outstanding position as Hitler's architect in National Socialist Germany, Piacentini was not given powers of attorney or special rights.


His father, Pio Piacentini (1846–1928), was a well-known architect and representative of Roman eclecticism . Marcello Piacentini gained his first experience in his father's architectural office, for example with the joint design for the National Library of Florence (1903–1906) in the neo-Renaissance style.

Piacentini's architectural style in the 1930s is characterized by an eclectic neo-monumentalism, which seeks to transfer positively charged building blocks from a bygone era into the present by transforming classic columns into square pillars (without a base or capital) and arcades into sharp-edged, profile-free colonnades and thereby deliberately hiding the human scale as a reference value. Rather, he is concerned with legitimizing a dictatorial power through his formal vocabulary and representing it in an oversized manner.

University chapel La Divina Sapienza in Rome, 1945–48

The high point of his career fell in the time of fascism : By 1933/1934 Piacentini's position as an architect was already unprecedented. He is Chairman of the Supreme Council of Public Works, Member of the Italian Academy, President of the Professional Association, Head of the Supreme Commission of Fine Arts, Director of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering of the University of Rome and Editor-in-Chief of the largest Italian trade magazine Architettura . His leadership role also allows him to broker orders and to bring about compromises on the part of almost all rationalist architects whom he could commit to work. A game with clearly assigned roles, because the representatives of Razionalismo in particular were eager to finally get important construction contracts after a long wait.

In the planning of the Città Universitaria in Rome (1932–1935), which was important for Piacentini and for which he built the strictly axial rectorate building clad in travertine , he carefully played a mediating role: with the involvement of rationalist architects such as Giuseppe Pagano or Giovanni Michelucci in He cleverly initiates the project in the process of harmonizing and merging Italian architecture. Only under his direction did the participating architects of Razionalismo have the chance of a realization. Piacentini quickly realized the meaningful connection between architecture and power. His negotiating skills and his increasingly stable position played a decisive role in promoting the supremacy of the group of the “Scuola Romana” he led.

His works can be found all over Italy, but especially in Rome, where, as the most influential architect of the fascist era, he significantly shaped the image of the city through a reduced neoclassicism . Above all, his urban planning, which can still be seen in the Italian capital today, is important. Through the heroization of ancient buildings as a reference to the eternal city and its great history, numerous historical buildings were spatially released through the destruction of neighboring buildings. The Via della Conciliazione project (1934/1950) also followed this urban planning principle with the uncovering of the access road to St. Peter's Church .

Piacentini's main urban development work is the general plan for the World Exhibition Center E42 in Rome. Exactly at the point where Piacentini wanted to place the “Altar of the New Order” for Benito Mussolini at the end of a gigantic street axis, the glass rotunda of the Palazzo dello Sport by Pier Luigi Nervi was built for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome .

Journalistic activity

In May 1921, Piacentini and Gustavo Giovannoni founded the magazine Architettura e Arti decorative , which became the official organ of the National Fascist Architects Association with the September – October 1927 issue. This magazine appeared for the last time in the December 1931 issue and was replaced by Architettura in 1932 . Here Marcello Piacentini took over the editor-in-chief until the last edition in December 1942. Piacentini also held an important position as editor of the subsequent Architettura magazine , Rassegna di Architettura , which appeared from January 1943 to April 1944.

Works (selection)

Assicurazioni Generali, Trieste
  • Italian Pavilion ( World's Fair ), Paris, 1910
  • Pavilion at the World Exhibition in Rome (Quartier Piazza d'Armi), 1911
  • Villino Allegri, Rome, 1913-1919
  • Italian Pavilion at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition , San Francisco, 1915
  • Cinema Corso, Rome, 1915-1917
  • Palazzo di Giustizia, Bergamo, 1916–1922
  • Church Sacro Cuore di Cristo Re in Viale Mazzini in Rome, 1919-1934
  • Cinema Teatro Savoia, Florence, 1922
  • Palazzo di Giustizia, Messina , 1923–1928
  • Casa Madre dei Mutilati, Rome, 1924–1928
  • Casale Fogaccia nell'Agro Romano, 1924–1929
  • Variant of the general development plan (draft), Rome, 1925–1926
  • Albergo degli Ambasciatori on via Veneto , Rome, 1925–1926
  • Victory Monument , Bolzano, 1926–1928
  • Redesign of Bergamo city center, 1927
  • Palazzo del Ministero delle Corporazioni in via Veneto, Rome, 1927–1932
  • Cassa Nazionale per le Assicurazioni Sociali, Milan, 1928–1931
  • Redesign of the center of Brescia ( Piazza della Vittoria ), 1928–1932
  • Casa per abitazioni in Via Lungotevere Tor di Nona, Rome, 1929–1931
  • Palazzo del Rettorato dell'Università degli studi di Roma La Sapienza , 1932–1935
  • Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria , 1932–1941
  • General development plan for Bolzano, 1933
  • Palazzo di Giustizia, Milan, 1933
  • Banca Agricola Milanese, Milan, 1933-1934
  • Army High Command (Corpo d'Armata), Bolzano, 1933–1935
  • Palazzo Missori, Milan, 1933–1938
  • Redesign of Via Roma, Turin, 1934–1938
  • Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali , Trieste, 1935 / 37–1938 / 39
  • Invernizzi high-rise, Genoa, 1937–1941
  • Urban development plan for the E42 ( EUR ), Rome, 1938
  • Headquarters of the Banco di Napoli, Naples, 1939–1940
  • La Divina Sapienza University Chapel ( University of La Sapienza ), Rome, 1945–1948
  • Via della Conciliazione , Rome, planning started in 1934, realization 1948–1950


  • Carmen M. Enss and Luigi Monzo (eds.): Townscapes in Transition. Transformation and Reorganization of Italian Cities and Their Architecture in the Interwar Period. Bielefeld 2019, ISBN 978-3-8376-4660-3 .
  • Luigi Monzo: Croci e fasci - Italian church building in the time of fascism, 1919–1945. 2 vol. Karlsruhe 2017 (dissertation, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 2017), pp. 494–499 and 1020–1022.
  • Christine Beese: Marcello Piacentini. Modern urban development in Italy. Berlin 2016. ISBN 978-3-496-01546-8 .
  • Luigi Monzo: Review of Beese, Christine: Marcello Piacentini. Modern urban development in Italy, Berlin 2016. In: architectura: Journal for the history of architecture. Vol. 45, 2015 (published in October 2016), pp. 88–91.
  • Luigi Monzo: »trasformismo architettonico« - Piacentini's Sacro Cuore di Cristo Re church in Rome in the context of the church renovation in Fascist Italy. In: Art and Politics. Yearbook of the Guernica Society. Vol. 15, 2013, pp. 83-100.
  • Giorgio Ciucci, Simonetta Lux and Franco Purini (eds.): Marcello Piacentini architetto, 1881–1960. Report from a conference in Rome on December 16 and 17, 2010. Gangemi, Rome [2012], ISBN 9788849225013 .
  • Mario Pisani: Architetture di Marcello Piacentini. Le opere maestre, Ed. Clear, Rome 2004.
  • Mario Lupano: Marcello Piacentini. Laterza, Rome and Bari 1991.

Individual evidence

  1. cf. Luigi Monzo: Croci e fasci - Italian church building in the time of fascism, 1919–1945. 2 vol., Karlsruhe 2017 (dissertation, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 2017), p. 122.
  2. cf. Luigi Monzo: Croci e fasci - Italian church building in the time of fascism, 1919–1945. 2 vol., Karlsruhe 2017 (dissertation, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 2017), pp. 492–536.
  3. cf. Luigi Monzo: Croci e fasci - Italian church building in the time of fascism, 1919–1945. 2 vol., Karlsruhe 2017 (dissertation, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 2017), p. 509.
  4. Marilena Pinzger: Stone symbol of the empire. Fascist monument architecture in South Tyrol using the example of the victory monument in Bolzano. University of Vienna , diploma thesis 2011, pp. 28–32.
  5. Hannes Obermair : "City in transition" - the Bolzano example "revisited". In: Razionalismi. Percorsi dell'abitare - Living appropriately, Bolzano / Bozen 1930–40. Bozen: La Fabbrica del Tempo / Die Zeitfabrik 2015, pp. 35–40.
  6. cf. Luigi Monzo: Croci e fasci - Italian church building in the time of fascism, 1919–1945. 2 vol., Karlsruhe 2017 (dissertation, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 2017), pp. 536-540.
  7. cf. Luigi Monzo: Croci e fasci - Italian church building in the time of fascism, 1919–1945. 2 vol., Karlsruhe 2017 (dissertation, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 2017), pp. 143–146.

Web links

Commons : Marcello Piacentini  - collection of images, videos and audio files