On Dec 8, 2019, Antonio Monestiroli, the great Milanese architect, theorist, and teacher departed our world. Antonio, who I knew for 40 years, was a teacher with a deep knowledge of architecture. He was also a builder who realized several important works according to his deeply held principles…so very rare in our time.
Recently the website Socks reviewed his design for Les Halles, Paris 1979. His brilliant entry to that competition shaped a great urban park, with the severity of the spirit of Mies, fused with a deep urban commitment. Antonio was a rare man of didactic clarity, followed by his many students. He had an elegant gravitas but with a sense of humor.
In his book, The Metope and the Triglyph: Nine Lectures in Architecture (November 2005), Monestiroli lays out a clear reflection on the separation of nature, technique, and history in architecture. Architecture from nature was shown by Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp. Architecture grounded in history by the work of Adolf Loos. Architecture grounded in technique by the work of Mies van der Rohe.
The famous casa dello studente in Chieti, a 1976 collaboration with Giorgo Grassi, or the Concorso per una piazza in Ancona, 1978, both in Italy, are examples of the inspiring uncompromising severity of his architecture. They stand among many other works in contrast to his gentle human nature as a teacher. Antonio was an inspiring example of uncompromising idealism in our time of commercial frivolity. He will be missed.
The above article was also copublished by Domus.