The late Aldo Rossi has achieved distinction as a theorist, an author, an artist, a teacher and as a architect, in his native Italy as well as internationally. Vincent Scully, in an introductory essay to a book on Rossi published by Rizzoli, compares him to LeCorbusier as a painter-architect. Ada Louise Huxtable, architectural critic and Pritzker juror has described Rossi as "a poet who happens to be an architect."
Although early film aspirations were gradually transposed to architecture, he still retains strong interest in drama. In fact, he says, "In all of my architecture, I have always been fascinated by the theatre." For the Venice Biennale in 1979, he designed the Teatro del Mondo, a floating theatre, built under a joint commission from the theatre and architecture commissions of the Biennale. It seated 250 around a central stage. It was towed by sea to the Punta della Dogana where it remained through the Biennale. Rossi described the project in its site, as "a place where architecture ended and the world of the imagination began." More recently, he completed a major building for Genoa, the Carlo Felice Theatre which is the National Opera House.
In his book, A Scientific Autobiography, he describes an auto accident that occurred in 1971 as being a turning point in his life, ending his youth, and inspiring a project for the cemetery at Modena. It was while he was recuperating in a hospital that he began thinking of cities as great encampments of the living, and cemeteries as cities of the dead. Rossi has said, "I believe it to be significant, above all, because of the simplicity of its construction, which allows it to be repeated."
When Rossi was introduced at Harvard to deliver the Walter Gropius Lecture, the chairman of the architecture department, Jose Rafael Moneo said, "When future historians look for an explanation as to why the destructive tendencies that threatened our cities changed, Rossi's name will appear as one of those who helped to establish a wiser and more respectful attitude."
In the essay titled The End of the Century Finds a Poet, and quoted earlier, Vincent Scully calls Rossi "the incomparable Italian builder, the shaper of the most beautiful, almost entirely man-made country in the world."The Pritzker Architecture Prize jury has once again recognized qualities in an architect that may have seemed, if not hidden, certainly not broadly proclaimed.
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