Pirelli Tower

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Pirelli Tower
A narrow, unornamented skyscraper with blue-green glass windows in the middle and a tapered metallic skin on the sides rising above some trees at ground level against a blue sky
Pirelli Tower, 2010
A map of Milan with a red dot in the northeast quadrant of the city center
A map of Milan with a red dot in the northeast quadrant of the city center
Location within Milan
Alternative names Pirellone
Pirelli Tower
General information
Status Complete
Type Commercial offices
Architectural style Modernism
Location Via Fabio Filzi, 22
Milan, Italy
Coordinates 45°29′05″N 9°12′05″E / 45.48472°N 9.20139°E / 45.48472; 9.20139Coordinates: 45°29′05″N 9°12′05″E / 45.48472°N 9.20139°E / 45.48472; 9.20139
Construction started 1956
Completed 1958
Owner Regional Government of Lombardy
Antenna spire 127 m (417 ft)
Roof 124.1 m (407 ft)
Top floor 112.8 m (370 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 32
2 below ground
Floor area 24,000 square metres (260,000 sq ft)
Lifts/elevators 6
Design and construction
Architect Giò Ponti
Pier Luigi Nervi
Main contractor Pirelli & C. SpA

Pirelli Tower (Italian: Grattacielo Pirelli – also called "Pirellone", literally "Big Pirelli"), is a 32-storey, 124.1 m (407 ft) skyscraper in Milan, Italy. The base of the building is 1,900 m2 (20,000 sq ft), with a length of 75.5 m (248 ft) and a width of 20.5 m (67 ft).[5] The construction used approximately 30,000 m3 (1,100,000 cu ft) of concrete. The building weighs close to 70,000 t (69,000 long tons; 77,000 short tons) with a volume of 125,324 m3 (4,425,800 cu ft).

Characterized by a structural skeleton, curtain wall façades and tapered sides, it was among the first skyscrapers to abandon the customary block form.[6] After its completion it was the tallest building in Italy[7] but in 1961 Mole Antonelliana recovered priority after rebuilding of its pinnacle. The architectural historian Hasan-Uddin Khan praised it as "one of the most elegant tall buildings in the world" and as one of the "few tall European buildings [that made] statements that added to the vocabulary of the skyscraper".[8]

Pirelli building was the inspiration for the design of the Pan Am Building (now MetLife Building) in New York.[9]


In 1950, Alberto Pirelli, president and owner of the giant Pirelli tyre company, ordered that a skyscraper be built in the area where the corporation's first factory was located in the 19th century. The project was developed by architect Gio Ponti, with the assistance of Pier Luigi Nervi and Arturo Danusso.

Construction of the tower began in 1956 when Italy was experiencing an economic boom. The tower was to be surrounded by low lying buildings on a pentagonal plot of land. Upon its completion in 1958, it became a symbol not only of Milan, but also of the economic recovery of Italy after the devastation of World War II. At 127 m (417 ft), it was the tallest building in Italy after Mole Antonelliana until 1995. The company sold the building to the Lombardy regional administration in 1978. It served as the seat of the regional assembly until the completion of the new Palazzo Lombardia in 2010.


2002 plane crash[edit]

On the afternoon of 18 April 2002, a Rockwell Commander 112 single-engine airplane registered in Switzerland, hit the building. The aircraft was apparently scheduled to fly from Locarno to Milan. The plane was low on fuel and Linate Airport was preparing an emergency landing prior to the crash, but the pilot suddenly strayed and crashed into the building. The pilot and two people inside the tower were killed in the accident. Two goals of the restoration work were to maintain the structural and artistic integrity of the building and to upgrade its status as an executive headquarters by introducing new support services and technological systems.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pirelli Tower". CTBUH Skyscraper Database. 
  2. ^ Pirelli Tower at Emporis
  3. ^ "Pirelli Tower". SkyscraperPage. 
  4. ^ Pirelli Tower at Structurae
  5. ^ Il cielo in una stanza, informative brochure from Lombardy Region.
  6. ^ Sharp, Dennis, ed. (1 September 1991). The Illustrated encyclopedia of architects and architecture (first ed.). New York: Whitney Library of Design. p. 124. ISBN 978-0823025398. Retrieved 3 September 2017. (Subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ Pascucci, Denim (27 February 2014). "AD Classics: Pirelli Tower / Gio Ponti, Pier Luigi Nervi". ArchDaily. Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  8. ^ Khan, Hasan-Uddin (1 May 1998). International style: modernist architecture from 1925 to 1965. Köln [Germany]: Taschen. p. 231. ISBN 978-3822882603. Retrieved 2 September 2017. (Subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^ Kirk, Terry (1 September 2005). Visions of Utopia, 1900 – present (first ed.). New York City: Princeton Architectural. p. 170. ISBN 978-1568984360. Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  10. ^ Campanelli, Alessandro Pergoli (25 March 2014), "Restoration of the facade of the Pirelli skyscraper in Milan", Frontiers of Architectural Research (3), pp. 212–223, ISSN 2095-2643 

Further reading[edit]

  • Terranova, Antonino; Valeria Manferto (2003). Skyscrapers. Vercelli: White Star Publishers. ISBN 8880952307. 

External links[edit]