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Milan: The City Rises

For over a century, ever since 1911, the image of Milan has been associated with the image of “The City Rises”, the painting of that name by Umberto Boccioni, which is considered to be a manifesto of Italian Futurism. It was “the architecture of calculation, of audacious temerity and of simplicity; the architecture of reinforced concrete, of steel, glass, cardboard, textile fibre, and of all those substitutes for wood, stone, and brick that enable us to obtain maximum elasticity and lightness.”

With the exception of the Torre Rasini in Corso Venezia and the Torre Snia Viscosa in Piazza San Babila, Milan may not have grown in height in the 1920s and 1930s, but it certainly rose in monumentality: the Palazzo Mezzanotte, which opened in 1932, still remains the magnificent symbol of an entire era. Milan really began to “rise” in 1955, first with the Torre Breda and then with the Torre Velasca, a gem of late 1950s brutalist architecture. In the words of one of the designers of the Torre Velasca, Ernesto Nathan Rogers of the BBPR partnership, “the tower aims to express the atmosphere and the ineffable and yet perceptible nature of the city of Milan, culturally but without imitating the style of any of its buildings.” Standing 106 metres tall, the Torre Velasca rises simultaneously alongside the 127 metres of the Pirelli Tower. For both buildings, the opening came in 1960-1.

The vertical thrust of the city then waned and it was only in the early 1990s that the two FS state railways towers, which later became the Torri Garibaldi, rose up opposite the station, standing 100 metres tall with 25 floors. And then, in 2010, the Palazzo Lombardia was completed, rising 161 metres as the new headquarters of the Region.
The Porta Nuova complex dates from 2014, with the 231-metre Torre Unicredit and the magnificent vertical forest known as the Bosco Verticale,. Those who come down to Milan from the north, along Viale De Gasperi, remain enchanted at the sight of the Tre Torri of CityLife. Symbols of a new Italian metropolis in the world.

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