Pier Luigi Nervi

Pier Luigi Nervi
Born (1891-06-21)June 21, 1891
Sondrio, Italy
Died January 9, 1979(1979-01-09) (aged 87)
Nationality Italian
Education University of Bologna

Engineering career

Discipline Structural engineer
Institutions Society for Concrete Construction
Institution of Structural Engineers
Projects Olympic Stadium in Rome (1960)
UNESCO headquarters in Paris (1950)
Hangar in Orvieto (1935)
Awards IStructE Gold Medal
Wilhelm Exner Medal (1957)
AIA Gold Medal (1964)

Pier Luigi Nervi (June 21, 1891 – January 9, 1979) was an Italian engineer. He studied at the University of Bologna and qualified in 1913. Dr. Nervi taught as a professor of engineering at Rome University from 1946-61. He is widely known as a structural engineer and an architect, and for his innovative use of reinforced concrete.


Pier Luigi Nervi was born in Sondrio and attended the Civil Engineering School of Bologna, from which he graduated in 1913. After graduation, Nervi joined the Society for Concrete Construction. Nervi spent several years in the Italian army during World War I from 1915–1918, when he served in the Corps of Engineering. His formal education was quite similar to that experienced by today's civil engineering student in Italy.

From 1961-1962 Nervi was the Norton professor at Harvard University.

Civil engineering works

Nervi began practicing civil engineering after 1923, and built several airplane hangars amongst his contracts. During the 1940s he developed ideas for a reinforced concrete which helped in the rebuilding of many buildings and factories throughout Western Europe, and even designed and created a boat hull that was made of reinforced concrete as a promotion for the Italian government.

Nervi also stressed that intuition should be used as much as mathematics in design, especially with thin shell structures. He borrowed from both Roman and Renaissance architecture while applying ribbing and vaulting to improve strength and eliminate columns. He combined simple geometry and prefabrication to innovate design solutions.

Engineer and architect

Pier Luigi Nervi was educated and practised as a ingegnere edile (translated as "building engineer") – in Italy, at the time (and to a lesser degree also today), a building engineer might also be considered an architect. After 1932, his aesthetically pleasing designs were used for major projects. This was due to the booming number of construction projects at the time which used concrete and steel in Europe and the architecture aspect took a step back to the potential of engineering. Nervi successfully made reinforced concrete the main structural material of the day. Nervi expounded his ideas on building in four books (see below) and many learned papers.

Archeological excavations suggested that he may have some responsibilities for the Flaminio stadium foundations passing through ancient Roman tombs.[1]

International projects

Most of his built structures are in his native Italy, but he also worked on projects abroad. Nervi's first project in the United States was the George Washington Bridge Bus Station. He designed the roof which consists of triangle pieces which were cast in place. This building is still used today by over 700 buses and their passengers.

Noted works

The Tour de la Bourse in Montreal (1964)


Pier Luigi Nervi was awarded Gold Medals by the Institution of Structural Engineers, the American Institute of Architects (AIA Gold Medal 1964), and the RIBA.

He was also awarded the Frank P. Brown Medal of The Franklin Institute in 1957.

In 1957, he was awarded the Wilhelm Exner Medal.


See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pier Luigi Nervi.

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/30/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.