Alessandro Rimini, self portrait, 1925

A memory of Alessandro Rimini on the Day of Remembrance

January 28 2021

The Italian law of 20 July 2000, n.211 has officially established the Holocaust Remembrance Day. Article 1 reads: “The Italian Republic recognises the day of 27 January – the date when the gates of Auschwitz were pulled down – as “Remembrance Day [Giorno della Memoria],” to remember the Holocaust (the genocide of the Jewish people), the racial laws, Italy’s persecution of its Jewish citizens, the Italians who were deported, imprisoned and killed, as well as those, with differing positions and allegiances, who opposed the extermination project and, risking their own lives, saved others and protected the persecuted”.

Twenty years after the first January 27 (Day of Remembrance), Triennale Milano decided to dedicate an institutional memory to Alessandro Rimini, an Italian architect and painter who suffered discrimination, persecution, arrest, torture, deportation and imprisonment for his Jewish faith. An in-person celebration with the delivery of a diploma in memory of Rimini will be officiated by the president of Triennale Milano Stefano Boeri as soon as the current Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and Palazzo dell’Arte can reopen. On that occasion, academics and guests will review the main works of Rimini and his daughter Liliana Rimini Lagonigro will receive the special honour from Triennale Milano. 

Views of the interior of the pastry bar "The Three Gazelles" in Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, 1950, designed by the architect Alessandro Rimini

In the meantime, there are many reasons to remember Alessandro Rimini. The main ones will be shown on Triennale Milano’s social media channels. Here, we would like to focus on some aspects of Rimini's work that were overshadowed by the shameful racial laws of 1938, which deprived him of the official artistic paternity of his projects. To restore human dignity and scientific credit to this abuse and to protect the efforts of a lifetime, Alessandro Rimini’s heirs have worked hard to reconstruct the origin of each project and to reposition other colleagues who had been wrongfully attributed authorship of Rimini’s work to the rank of assistants or co-authors. In this sense, the research published by professors and scholars such as Giovanna D’Amia and Fulvio Irace from Politecnico di Milano, Ludovica Vacirca, Andrea Disertori, Ornella Selvafolta, Lucia Tenconi and Maria Teresa Feraboli (Silvana Editoriale, 2002; Maggioli Editore, 2011) provides essential insights to anyone who will decide to continue to study, analyse and disseminate Rimini’s work.

Model of the Snia Viscosa tower house taken from the studio of the architect Alessandro Rimini

Construction site sign for the Snia Viscosa tower house in Piazza San Babila

Entrance portal, Snia Viscosa tower house, Piazza San Babila, Milan, project by architect Alessandro Rimini, Lucca, Officine A.Biraghi (Milan)

Snia Viscosa tower house in Piazza San Babila in Milan in 1937, designed by the architect Alessandro Rimini (1935-1937)

Alessandro Rimini, Type for a town hall in the shape of a skyscraper to be built in a North American city, 1922

Triennale Milano inaugurated the exhibition Auditorium di Milano. Architettura musica (1938-2018) with the same purpose in 2018. The seat of the Verdi orchestra was created by converting the Cinema Massimo designed by Alessandro Rimini. The hall was opened between 1938 and 1939 and closed in 1979. Twenty years later, architect Giancarlo Marzorati decided to renovate it. Curated by Pasquale Guadagnolo (Silvana Editoriale, 2019), the exhibition was an opportunity to display the drawings and photographs of Rimini’s original idea, which inspired the Auditorium hall. Ludovica Vacirca described the main features of the project: “the large hall is framed by the curves of the cantilevered balcony, the ceiling - vaulted towards the stage for improved acoustic quality - and the lighting arranged in a horseshoe shape. The building also features a structure of reticular rods, very light for a work from 1939. So much that, during the restoration works that turned the hall into the Auditorium of Milan in 1999, it was decided to reveal the concrete beams supporting the roof (originally hidden by a false ceiling), to enhance its modern design and fine state of preservation.”

View of the building for the management and administration of the Cardarelli Hospital in Naples, designed by the architect Alessandro Rimini, 1924

Cinema Metro Astra in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, screening room, 1941, project by architect Alessandro Rimini
Cinema Metro Astra in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, screening room, 1941, project by architect Alessandro Rimini

Alessandro Rimini is known for works including the Snia Viscosa tower (the first Milanese skyscraper), some of the buildings that overlook Piazza San Babila, as well as Metro Astra, Impero, Colosseo and Massimo cinema halls – the latter two of which are still active, the former as a cinema and the latter as an auditorium. He worked for the Superintendency of Trieste and Venezia Giulia, designed and acted as clerk of works for the Cardarelli hospital in Naples, supervised the restoration of several archaeological heritage sites in Istria, Aquileia and Grado. Alessandro Rimini carried out these demanding and challenging tasks at a young age, before his life was affected by national events. In those years he studied the civil responsibility of architecture, respect for history and the desire to give it a voice by designing monuments, as happened with his unrealised projects in Monza, Ancona and Monfalcone. They have remained ideas with evocative drawings, fine pieces of art as well as detailed representation tables. This personal and professional training ground prepared him for the working world in Milan, where Alessandro Rimini met and collaborated with Ponti, Fornaroli, Soncini, Reggiori and De Min.

Cinema Metro Astra in corso Vittorio Emanuele, galleria dei passi perduti, 1941, progetto dell’architetto Alessandro Rimini

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