Aldo Rossi, the first Italian architect to win Pritzker Award, was born on 3 May 1931 in Milan, Italy. He graduated from Polytechnic University of Milan in 1959. Rossi was not only a famous architect but he earned a lot of fame as a theorist, author, artist and teacher as well. He started writing while studying architecture in 1955 and by 1959 he had become the editor of an architectural magazine named Casabella-Continuità and served this post until 1964.
Even though Rossi started his professional career as an architect in 1956 but in 1963 he deviated to teaching profession and served as architecture professor at different institutes including the School of Urban Planning in Arezzo, the Institute of Architecture in Venice and Polytechnic University of Milan. In 1965 he published his book The architecture of the city, which turned out to be a highbrow architectural literature. Along with all this another passion that kept lingering along him was drama. As he said, “In all of my architecture, I have always been fascinated by the theater.”
It was 1971 when his architectural career took a turn towards a mature phase. He owes this to an auto accident which made him end up in a hospital. It was during that hospital stay that he came up with inspiration for the competition project he was taking part in those days, to build Cemetery of San Cataldo (1971–84) in Modena, Italy. This cemetery won him first prize and is also counted as the very first built project of Aldo Rossi. This time period proved to be quite fruitful for him professionally and another of his project, his first housing complex also embraced the stages of completion. By the end of this project Rossi stated, “I believe it to be significant, above all, because of the simplicity of its construction, which allows it to be repeated.” This project can be regarded as a starting point for his exuberant contributions towards solutions regarding housing problems. Later on he worked on all types of housing from single units to apartment buildings and hotels.
It is said quite often that initial works of Rossi had this tinge of Italian Modernism in them. An important design rule, valued much by Rossi was repetition. A repetition of basic architectural elements was quite evident in all his designs. He regarded this process as a search for the essential forms. Right from the start, Rossi had developed a keen understanding about how cities worked. The functionality of cities and their elements governed his building designs. It can be clearly seen that he treated public buildings as scaled down genre of functioning cities.
Along with all this architectural and literary work, Aldo Rossi did a sufficient justice with his title as a designer. He designed a number of objects that won him international recognition. Among all these objects stands out the elegant and beautifully shaped “Milano” chair, that was made in both cherry and oak in 1988. With all these contributions Rossi became the very first architect from Italy to win the highest award of the field, The Pritzker award, in 1990.
This influential Italian architect died at the age of 66 in Milan as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident on September 4, 1997.