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Roof of the Palazzetto dello Sport, Rome, Italy, 1958, by architect Pier Luigi Nervi

The Matthew Brown/Stadiafile (2012-2015) write:
“Pier Luigi Nervi is to architects what Pete Maravich is to basketball players or Fritz Lang is to film directors – a technical virtuoso whose extraordinary work so fundamentally broke from architectural tradition that his influence is only fully appreciated generations later….”

“Nervi basically invented reinforced concrete, a type of concrete impregnated with steel bars that give concrete its missing tensile strength. Although reinforced concrete is now used pretty much everywhere concrete is required, Nervi’s use of the material was anything but quotidian. His characteristic, lightweight, shell structures gain their strength from the strategic placement of structural ribs. Much like a groin vault in Gothic Cathedrals, the loads acting on Nervi’s structures are concentrated along the system of ribs. Nowhere is this rib system more beautifully on display than at the Palazzetto dello Sport in Rome….”

“Like many great buildings, the cozy 3,500-seat arena is simultaneously large and small, intimate and grand. The small seating capacity and incredible roof are largely responsible for this duality. The 60-meter diameter space is spanned by the paper lantern-esque, white-painted roof. Consisting of a series of prefabricated concrete pieces, the roof took a mere forty days to be snapped into place. The forces leading outward from the roof are picked up by Y-shaped flying buttresses that ring the perimeter of the building, another reference to ancient architecture Nervi was so fond of.”

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