RECAP: October Italian Section Event in Florence

This one day event, hosted by AIA Europe Italian Section Leader Royce Lanier, was packed with a diverse program with attendees from all over Europe, starting at the Florence Institute of Design International (FIDI).  FIDI was founded by Italian section member Marc Di Dominico in 2008. Having begun as a small 'study abroad' program, FIDI has grown to a school offering both undergraduate and graduate programs in several areas of design with more than 150 students.  It is housed on the Piano Nobile of two 18th Century, Category 0 (the highest) historic landmark structures, originally built as grand residences of important Florentine families. The program is detailed below.

Fresco Restoration

The first discussion of the day’s program was a fresco restoration presentation by fresco restoration expert, Sig. Daniella Dini. She showed us a technique of fresco recovery developed by her father following the Florence floods in 1966 and many examples from her own work on recovering and restoring frescos so badly damaged by floods or water penetration that they were seemingly irretrievable. To continue this theme, Arch. Marc Di Dominico discussed the process of uncovering (removing later overpainting or plaster overlay) and restoration of the frescos at FIDI and a tour of the facilities.


Surprises and Setbacks: Rome and Venice Stadium Projects

Next, a presentation by section member Arch. Steven Scamihorn whose firm, BEAR PM, serves as project manager on both projects. His presentation covered two large privately financed urban development projects. Steve explained the national context that led to the creation of a new 'streamlined' project approval process to encourage private financing of new sports stadium projects by allowing them to be integrated with larger development projects that provide additional income streams.


A Decent Simplicity

Last, A Decent Simplicity: Architectural and Compositional Features of Raffaello Fagnoni's 1936-38 Project for the Scula di Guerra Area at Cascine - the afternoon began with a presentation by Arch. Matteo Fagnoni, of the man Raffaello Fagnoni, his grandfather and what it was like to be an architect in Florence in that period. This was followed by an insightful presentation of the project itself by Arch. Simone Barbi, a professor of Architecture at the University of Florence who has extensively studied the works of Raffaello Fagnoni. The presentation was followed by a site visit and tour of the campus, which consists of 9 buildings set within an existing arboretum on the edge of Florence's largest park. The project is without doubt an architectural masterpiece achieved under tight constraints including material shortages requiring special engineering solutions during a period of war by a very young architect who managed the entire process from programming to site planning and design through building and furnishing in less than two years! It continues to serve as Italy's Air Force Academy, where all air force officers receive training as they progress up the ranks. It is an active military facility and access is restricted, so we were fortunate to be allowed to visit.

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Photos by Royce Lanier, Steve Scamihorn, Michelle Montgomery,.  Summary written by Royce Lanier.