After earning his degree in Civil Engineering in Bologna in 1913, Pier Luigi Nervi (Sondrio 1891 – Rome 1979) dedicated his entire life to the design and calculation of architectural structures.
His fascination with reinforced concrete led him to work for many years with concrete construction companies in Bologna and Florence. In 1920 he founded his own construction company in Rome, the Società ing. Nervi e Nebbiosi, where he was both designer and builder. This experience was followed, in 1932, by the creation of the Ing. Nervi e Bartoli “design and construction” company. His first important works include the Cinema Augusteo in Naples and the seating for the Municipal Stadium in Florence (1930-32). The hangar designed for a competition held by Aviazione italiana in 1935 (which he won), confirmed his complete understanding of the theory, technique and spatial construction of the large geodetic roof structures and prefabricated elements for which he became known. After years of study he formulated a particular variation of reinforced concrete that allowed him to build, between 1948-49, the expansive, single-span roof in ferro-cement that covers the central hall of the Torino Esposzioni Complex, destroyed during the War.
In 1946 he was named professor of Construction Techniques and Material Technology at the Faculty of Architecture in Rome, where he taught until 1961. In the mid 1950s he completed various important projects, including the Pirelli skyscraper in Milan, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, the Olympic complex in Rome (the Palazzetto dello Sport, the Corso Francia viaduct and the Flaminio Stadium), the Palazzo del Lavoro in Turin, the George Washington bus station in New York, the Risorgimento Bridge in Verona, the Victoria Square tower in Montreal, St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco and the Papal Audience Hall in Vatican City.
Professional recognition was accompanied by numerous degrees ad honorem conferred by universities around the world: Buenos Aires (1950), Edinburgh and Monaco (1960), Warsaw (1961), Harvard and Dartmouth (1962), Prague (1967), London (1969) and Budapest (1971).
P. L. Nervi, Arte o scienza del costruire – Edizione della Bussola – Roma 1945
G. Perugini, Pier Luigi Nervi, in Rassegna critica di architettura, 30, aprile-giugno 1954, pp3-49
P. L. Nervi, Coslruire correttamente – Edizioni Hoepli – Milano 1954
G. C. Argan, Pier Luigi Nervi, Milano 1955
P. L. Nervi, Structures – F. W. Dodge Corporation – New York 1956
J. Joedicke, E. N. Rogers, Pier Luigi Nervi, Milano 1957
A. L. Huxtable, Pier Luigi Nervi, Milano 1960
A. Pica, Pier Luigi Nervi, Roma 1969
P. Desideri, P.L. Nervi Jr., G. Positano, (a cura di) Pier Luigi Nervi, Bologna 1979
Pier Luigi Nervi, in “Process: Architecture”, 23 aprile 1981, pp. 2-163
F. Mariano, G. Milelli, (a cura di) Pier Luigi Nervi una scienza per l’architettura, Roma 1982
P.L. Nervi Jr., Pier Luigi Nervi, Tokyo 1982
P. Desideri, Pier Luigi Nervi, Bologna 1983