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REVISIONIST HISTORY: THE NEW FONDAZIONE PRADA AND THE ARCHITECTURE OF PRESERVATION

OMA, Fondazione Prada, 2015, Milan. Photo: Bas Princen.

IN 1877, construction crews were hard at work in the historic center of Milan, where a startlingly new structure was rising next to the gothic cathedral: the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a vast, vaulted arcade of shops and restaurants just off the Piazza del Duomo. The project embodied many of the key tenets of the burgeoning modernist movement. Its soaring glass canopies were held in place by cast-iron ribs, for example, making use of innovative material and structural technologies and creating a new type of building with little precedent. The designers also took a modern stance toward their site, having razed a district of existing buildings to make room for the complex, exemplifying an approach that would soon be replicated in cities around the world to accommodate the building projects churned out by the engines of modernity, from train stations to exhibition halls, office

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