Tom Rankin (BA, Princeton, MArch Harvard), President of American Institute for Roman Culture (AIRC), founded the Institute in 2002 in order to promote and defend the heritage of Rome. Deeply-rooted in the academic communities of both Rome and the United States, the AIRC appeals to, teaches, and inspires a broad demographic of students, scholars, and educated laypeople.
— excerpt from www.romanculture.org


Main Points

  • There soon will be an Italian design revival.
  • Starting from the designer, a design can possibly transform an entire part of the city.
  • Development of a project, from winning a competition to going through the implementation stage, is a slow process. And sometimes, projects simply get left unfinished.
  • The Ruins and how they affect the design heritage is a symbol of how Italian design is very connected to the Italian culture and history.
  • Design in Rome has developed from the Middle Ages to now and will continue to do so. There is still excitement in the modern design field.


Italy history and heritage plays a large role in Italy design. In fact, it remains such a strong influence in modern Italian design that often it appears it cannot be mimicked elsewhere outside of Italy.


Rome's Next Design Rebirth [clip 1]

Returning to Rome , I'd say, 4 years to be safe. 4 Years from now, Rome will be a Mecca of a very different story for young architects. There will be a Rem Koolhaas project completed, a Zaha Hadid project completed, 2 projects by Massimiliano Fuksas who will finally get the world fame?

A Project from Start to Finish to its Effects [clip 1]

It's a great process to actually be able to see the context before a project is designed. Then to see the whole. And then to see the building. And see how, and then and then 10 years later to see how it modifies. I mean, here for example, when this was a hole basically, this was a vacant lot in between for a long time. And now we have a place. And that place is then having repercussions on the neighborhood around it, set into motion to a kind of transformation of an entire part of the city. A lot of this is due to choice of site, bureaucracy government, commissions, and stuff like that. A lot of it is due to the specific architect. The architect that was chosen here, Architect Ranzo Piano, was chosen after a competition.

Projects take Time [clip 1]

Ranzo Piano wins the competition. The working process in Italy in general, unfortunately, can be very very slow from the point when somebody wins a competition to the point where the building is actually completed. And this is, it started out as an example of that. And I think it's due to the experience, perseverance of Ranzo Piano that it didn't just get stuck in the mud the way many projects do. The main problem is that traditionally Italian governments change very quickly. If one government gives you the job, the next government is just anxious to take it away from you and not complete their predecessor's victory. So there's a political reason why things don't get finished here. But in this case, that didn't quite happen.

Italian Traditions and History [clip 1]

The other problem in Rome that you run into everywhere... are ruins. Anywhere you build in Rome, you run into ruins. And there's this, not quite animosity, but difference of opinion between the archeological community and the kinda cultural heritage community trying to preserve things, and the architectural community with also the developers and kinda progressive designers that want to evolve. That tension colors a lot of what goes on in Rome.

Rome Continues on [clip 1]

An architect friend of mine who pointed out how for a lot of archeologists, the historical center of Rome is finished. It's evolved from antiquity of Middle Ages, to the Renaissance, and then it was finished. It's not finished. Architects are still building and most architects practicing in Rome see that as a very challenging opportunity.

Old Power Promotes Itself [clip 1]

The atmosphere in Rome is very much that history oppresses that old power promotes itself and it's very hard to get in from the outside.