Known as both an architect and an engineer, Pier Luigi Nervi (June 21, 1891 – January 9, 1979) explored the limitations of reinforced concrete by creating a variety of inventive structural projects; in the process, he helped to show the material had a place in architecture movements of the coming years. Nervi began his career in a time of technological revolution, and through his ambition and ability to recognize opportunity in the midst of challenge, he was able to have an impact on several disciplines and cultures.
Let's think of a paper sheet. If we tried to stiffen it from its primary state, it couldn't support its own weight. However, if we bend it, the sheet achieves a new structural quality. The shells act in the same way. "You can't imagine a form that doesn't need a structure or a structure that doesn't have a form. Every form has a structure, and every structure has a form. Thus, you can't conceive a form without automatically conceiving a structure and vice versa".  The importance of the structural thought that culminates in the constructed object is then, taken by the relationship between form and structure. The shells arise from the association between concrete and steel and are structures whose continuous curved surfaces have a minimal thickness; thus they are widely used in roofs of large spans without intermediate supports.
In structural terms, they are efficient because they resist compression efforts and absorb at specific points on their surface, especially near the supports — small moments of flexion.
Joseph Rodota's new book The Watergate: Inside America’s Most Infamous Address (William Morrow) presents the story of a building complex whose name is recognized around the world as the address at the center of the United States' greatest political scandal—but one that has so many more tales to tell. In this excerpt from the book, the author looks into the design and construction of a building The Washington Post once called a "glittering Potomac Titanic," a description granted because the Watergate was ahead of its time, filled with boldface names—and ultimately doomed.
On the evening of October 25, 1965, the grand opening of the Watergate was held for fifteen-hundred guests. Luigi Moretti, the architect, flew in from Rome. Other executives came from Mexico, where the Watergate developer, the Italian real estate giant known as Societa Generale Immobiliare, was planning a community outside Mexico City, and from Montreal, where the company was erecting the tallest concrete-and-steel skyscraper in Canada, designed by Moretti and another Italian, Pier Luigi Nervi.
With its hundreds of churches, Rome has a developed a rich history of domes. Inspired by this heritage, Jakob Straub has photographed the city's most remarkable rotundas from the ancient Pantheon up to Pier Luigi Nervi's modern sports arena. His neutral photo perspective, taken looking upwards from the center of the rotunda, opens a new view for the underlying concepts where the architecture yearns for the firmament. For Elías Torres, these “zenithal-lit” spaces constitute an important method for daylight architecture, where the exterior is also transformed into a fascinating distant reality.
Torres has analysed numerous strategies for lighting architecture effectively with daylight from above. In his book “Zenithal Light,” illustrated with an abundance of striking photos, he came to the conclusion that “Amongst the representations of the sky in the interior of architecture, the one that depicts the sun shining from above with a circular form has been the favoured one for many cultures.”
Pier Luigi Nervi's Palazzo del Lavoro (Palace of Labour) in Turin has been devastated by fire. The unoccupied exhibition hall, originally built for Italia'61, had been undergoing renovations. As La Stampa Turin reports, the fire started on the second floor and is most likely the result of arson. A similar incident happened a few months ago, but was quickly extinguished.
The glass encased Palace of Labour is internally divided by 16 structurally independent steel roofed compartments, each supported by radial branches stemming from 65-foot-tall concrete columns.
This week we are featuring San Francisco for our Architecture City Guide series. Thank you to all of our readers for adding their can’t miss buildings last week. We hope to see your comments below this week too.
Follow the break for our San Francisco list and a corresponding map!