Roberto Einaudi: Learning from Pier Luigi Nervi

An old black and white photo of Einaudi and Nervi

Pier Luigi Nervi, right, with Roberto Einaudi at MIT in 1962. photo / provided

Roberto Einaudi graduated with a B.Arch. from Cornell University in 1961, and an M.Arch. from MIT in 1962. He worked in the office of Louis I. Kahn in 1957 and 1959. From 1962 to 1986, he practiced as an architect in Africa, the Middle and Far East, the U.S., and Europe, specializing in the design of schools, hospitals, universities, and new cities. In 1986, he founded the Cornell in Rome program, which he directed until 1992. In Italy, his architectural office, Studio Einaudi, specializes in museums (Capitoline Museum, Museo dei Gessi at La Sapienza in Rome, and archaeological museums in Grosseto, Sassoferrato, and Anagni); in the restoration of historical buildings (the American Academy in Rome, Villa Aurelia, St. Paul's within the walls) and urban sites (Venice historical center, Roman Imperial Fora project, an ancient Roman theater in Naples); and currently the design and supervision of a project involving modern athletic facilities, underground parking, and restoration of ancient palazzi in an archaeologically significant area of central Naples.

Einaudi contributed to La lezione di Pier Luigi Nervi, published by Bruno Mondadori in 2010, and is currently working on the critical reedition of Aesthetics and Technology in Building by Nervi, to be published by University of Illinois Press in 2017. He is also updating and translating into English the fundamental text Roma Moderna by Italo Insolera to be published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2017. He is actively writing and drawing about dreams, nature, family history, and the poets Keats and Shelley.


As a young architecture student at Cornell in the late 1950s, Einaudi was struck by the beauty of Pier Luigi Nervi's work and by the multiplicity of his interests, ranging from the design of boats to the construction of long span buildings in reinforced concrete, to the creation of exquisite and delicate prefabricated forms. Einaudi convinced Cornell to give him a leave of absence for a year to follow Nervi's lectures at the University of Rome. Upon his return, Einaudi's professors had him organize his notes to make them available. The year Einaudi went to MIT (1961–62) for his M.Arch., Nervi was awarded the Norton Poetry Chair at nearby Harvard. He asked Einaudi to be the interpreter for his lectures and subsequently to help prepare and translate the resulting book, Aesthetics and Technology in Building. This lecture covers Nervi's work and the reasons behind it.

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