Vittorio Gregotti, 1975. Photo: Adriano Alecchi.

Vittorio Gregotti (1927–2020)

Italian architect, theorist, urban planner, and educator Vittorio Gregotti, known for designing opera houses, arenas, and other large-scale constructions and for transforming the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys in Barcelona into the 1992 Olympic Stadium during the course of his prolific career, has passed away. The ninety-two-year-old died of pneumonia caused by COVID-19 in San Giuseppe Hospital in Milan on March 15. Due to the high number of cases of the coronavirus in Italy—it had more than 31,500 confirmed cases at the time of this article’s publication—the entire country has been under lockdown, and its health care system is at risk of collapsing.

Born in in Novara, in northwestern Italy, in 1927, Gregotti studied architecture at the Polytechnic University of Milan. Upon graduating in 1952, he worked for Casabella, an Italian architectural magazine, of which he eventually became editor in chief, and B.P.P.R., an architecture and design firm where he collaborated with architect Ernesto Rogers. He also taught at a number of universities and wrote books on architecture theory. Gregotti was asked to lead the visual arts section of the Venice Biennale in 1976 and 1978.

In 1974, Gregotti founded his own firm, Gregotti Associati International, and went on to design the Teatro degli Arcimboldi (2001) and the Università Bicocca in Milan (1998); the Stadio Luigi Ferraris (1992) in Genoa; the Belém Cultural Center (1992) in Lisbon; and the Grand Théâtre de Provence (2007) in France. His studio also designed the master plan for the New City of Pujiang in Shanghai, a nine-mile-long area on the River Huangpu that was built for 100,000 inhabitants.

Following Gregotti’s death, Beppe Sala, the mayor of Milan, called him one of the world’s “greatest architects” and said that the city owes him a great debt.