Ernesto Nathan Rogers
Italian architect, critic, and publisher
“The typical approach of a Milanese architect is: To design from the spoon to the town.”
Ernesto Nathan Rogers
Ernesto Nathan Rogers (born March 16, 1909, Trieste, Italy–died November 7, 1969, Gardone Riviera, Italy) was a pivotal Italian architect, critic, and publisher, as well as a founding member of the architectural partnership Studio BBPR Milano. Rogers became a crucial voice of Italian Modernist ideals that helped shape the landscape of innovations and pedagogy in the architecture and design fields. Rogers was also instrumental in the establishment of the architectural current Italian Rationalism (Razionalismo Italiano).
Rogers graduated as an architect from Politecnico di Milano in 1932, and that same year he teamed up with colleagues Gianluigi Banfi (1910–1945), Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso (1909–2004), and Enrico Peressutti (1908–1976) to form Studio BBPR, an architectural collaboration (whose name was taken from each member’s initials) established to promote Rationalism in modern architectural design. In 1934, while working at Studio BBPR, he also worked as co-editor of the architecture and design journal Quadrante magazine, a position that he held until 1936.
In 1943, with the onset of World War II, Rogers, who was Jewish, headed to Switzerland, where he would stay from 1943 to 1945. While in Switzerland, Rogers made the acquaintance of rising figures in Italian design, among them Vico Magistretti, and shifted his focus from design to editorial and scholarly pursuits.
Upon his return to Italy after the war, Studio BBPR continued its work in architecture and design, but this time without Gianluigi Banfi, who was caught fighting the Nazis alongside the Italian resistance and killed at the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. But Rogers distinguished himself from his other Studio BBPR partners for his almost exclusive work as a journalist, critic, and academic. In 1946, Rogers served briefly as editor for Domus magazine. Then, in 1954, he became editor of Casabella magazine (then temporarily branded Casabella-continuita), a post he would maintain until he resigned in 1964. During his time as editor of Casabella, he became an influential international force in the emerging architecture and design fields of the postwar era, as well as a critic in favor of the environment and the student protests.
Even if Rogers’ work as an editor, thinker, and academic, is at times considered even more influential than his work as an architect and designer; Roger left behind important architectural work. One of these landmark architectural contributions is Roger’s collaboration, along with the other Studio BBPR partners, in the design of the Torre Velasca (1954), which was erected in the heart of Milan and designed to invoke reference to historical shapes of the medieval Lombard tradition used for fortresses and towers, but with a Modernist austerity.
His activity as a professor was also a focal point of his professional life. Between 1952 and 1956, along with Ignazio Gardella, Franco Albini, and Giuseppe Samonà, Rogers taught summer courses at the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) in Venice. By the 1960s, Rogers was also appointed as a full professor at Politecnico di Milano, a post he held until his death in 1969.
For more information on Ernesto Nathan Rogers, please visit:
“Ernesto Nathan Rogers.” ArchINFORM.
Luca Molinari, “Ernesto Nathan Rogers and Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso.” Radical Pedagogies.
Last updated: October 22, 2019
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