The Pirelli Skyscraper commonly called ‘Pirellone‘ has become an icon of Milan and of the economic boom of the Italian sixties. I would say that now it’s a vintage icon. Built between 1956 and 1969, at 127 meters high,it was at the time one of the tallest skyscrapers in Europe.
The building was commissioned by Alberto and Piero Pirelli the owners of the famous industrial group to relocate the company offices in what looked like a strategic location near the central train station.
The tower was inaugurated in 1960 and housed about 2000 people. The Pirelli building is perhaps the most famous building designed by Gio Ponti. This is a project of his mature age in which many themes that characterized his work were brought to completion. The building has a hexagon shaped plan – this “diamond” shape characterizing all his projects of this period – crossed by a central corridor.
Nervi and Danusso are the consultants for the reinforced concrete structure. You can see the structure in the façade, in the ribs of the front and in the concrete headboards crossed by a crevice in which emergency stairs are housed. The façade is characterized by the use of very simple and transparent materials: glass, aluminium, steel for this curtainwall façade, while ceramic tiles line the external concrete structure; this is a constant in his works.
The building loomed high on the surrounding void. The top floor of the skyscraper, 31st, is known as the Belvedere for the unique and fascinating panoramic views. In the interior the architect used materials produced by Pirelli including coloured vinyl coatings.
Because of the high costs for managing the building, in 1979 it was sold to Regione Lombardia. So the building has gone under some refurbishment works which involved, among other things, the removal of movable walls and vinyl wall coverings.
In 2002, a small plane crashed into the building: two floors were destroyed in which three people died. After this tragic event attention surrounding this building rose and so it was decided to restore it. Restoration involved the exterior and the auditorium, reclassified as a modern conference center and named Giorgio Gaber. They also restored 11,000 square meters of curtain walls and removed window frames and replaced the glass. Particularly delicate was the maintenance and consolidation of over 12,000 square meters of ceramic tiles (2 x 2 cm).
The restoration was carried out by Corvino + Multari / Associated Architects, under the overall coordination of the architect Renato Sarno.