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Aldo Rossi papers, 1943-1999

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Finding aid for the Aldo Rossi papers, 1943-1999

Biographical / Historical Note

One of the most important Italian architects of the second half of the 20th century Aldo Rossi is considered by some to be an integral author of the postmodern movement of architecture. Rossi received international acclaim not just as an architect but also as a designer, artist and theorist.

Rossi was born in 1931 in Milan. He began his studies in architecture in 1949 at Milan Polytechnic. He completed his architecture degree in 1959 and in 1965 Rossi was appointed to the Architecture faculty at Milan Polytechnic. Rossi was suspended from teaching in Italy in 1971 along with members of the Council of the Faculties of Architecture, Milan due to his political activities in support of the student movement. However, he returned to teaching in Italy four years later. Rossi taught at many universities in Europe and the United States including Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich, Cooper Union in New York and the University of Venice in Italy. He also lectured substantially and regularly attended conferences domestically and internationally.

Rossi's numerous publications include the influential L'archittetura della città and Autobiografia scientifica. From his student days onward he contributed to various journals, especially Casabella taking a position at the journal as editor from 1964. His articles and essays considered the city as a place of collective memory, charged with symbolic values, asking architecture to reflect upon its own history.

Rossi was a founder of the Tendenza movement, an architecture movement with origins in Italy, sometimes referred to as Neo-Rationalism. Tendenza rejected the elaborate and utopian design tropes of the avant-garde and focused on the political and critical aspects of a realistic architecture. Rossi's architecture used a limited vocabulary stripping architecture to its core. His work focused on simple typology and morphology manifested in primal forms such as cones, cylinders, prisms and cubes. Among Rossi's most well known architectural projects are the Teatro del Mondo for the Venice Biennale; the Cemetery of San Cataldo in Modena; the Carlo Felice Theater in Genoa; and the Gallaratese Housing Complex outside of Milan. At various times he collaborated with architects Gianni Braghieri, Morris Adjmi and Umberto Barbieri.

For some, Rossi's drawings and design work are equally if not more important than his architectural projects. Influenced by the Surrealist painter Giorgio Di Chirico his artworks have an enigmatic, poetic quality. Rossi also designed furniture and in 1980 Alessi began producing Rossi's designs for tea services and coffee makers. His art was regularly exhibited nationally and internationally.

The Pritzker Architecture Prize was awarded to Rossi in 1990. He also received the 1991 American Institute of Architecture Honor Award, the 1991 Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture and the Campione d'Italia nel mondo. Rossi died in Milan in 1997.

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