Famed Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti dies of coronavirus

Gregotti, who was behind the design of the Barcelona Summer Olympic Stadium, died aged 92

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Vittorio Gregotti, the Italian architect who helped design the Barcelona Summer Olympic Stadium, has died aged 92 after contracting the coronavirus.

Gregotti died on Sunday, March 16 after being admitted to the San Giuseppe hospital in Milan with pneumonia caused by the virus. His wife, Marina Mazza, is also being treated at the same hospital. It is still unclear whether she contracted Covid-19 as well.

He is one of more than 1,800 people to die from the virus in Italy, which has become the worst affected country outside of China.

Gregotti was born in Novara, west of Milan, in 1927. He graduated from the Polytechnic University of Milan – the largest technical university in Italy –in 1952, going on to work for the Italian architectural magazine Casabella, first as a contributor then as its editor-in-chief until 1963.

Vittorio Gregotti, Italian, architect, essayist, portrait, Carpi, Italy, 25th January 2008. (Photo by Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images)
Vittorio Gregotti has died aged 92 after testing positive for coronavirus. Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images)

After founding the Gregotti Associati International in 1974, he went on to design the Belem Cultural Centre in Lisbon, the Arcimboldi Opera Theatre in Milan and several university campuses including the University of Calabria. He also designed the Marassi Geneva Stadium in Genoa for the 1990 World Cup in Italy. His studio was also behind the design of the Pujiang New Town in Shanghai, a planned town build with Italian architectural themes.

Gregotti was also a distinguished curator and essayist. In 1975, he curated an exhibition called Regarding the Stucky Mill, which explores options for the abandoned granary mills on Venice's Giudecca. The exhibition, inspired the La Biennale di Venezia to establish an exhibition on architecture, was a precursor for the Venice Architecture Biennale, which began in 1980.

“I don’t really know why [they asked an architecture to curate the Biennale] – it was very strange,” Gregotti said in 2010. “I agreed to do it only if we also had a small first exhibition of architecture. That was the condition because if not, well, I wasn’t going to do it. The biennale had never had an architecture section, so this would be the first one.”

Fellow Italian architect Stefano Boeri paid tribute to Gregotti following news of his death, calling him a “master of international architecture” who “created the story of our culture."

“What a great sadness,” Boeri wrote on Facebook.

Dario Franceschini, Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage, said that Gregotti was “a great Italian architect and urban planner who has given prestige to our country in the world. I cling to the family on this sad day.”