Uno scavo ciclopico. Il nuovo palazzo della Cariplo nel cuore di Milano

Serena Berno – Barbara Costa

Milano, Hoepli, 2012

Known in Milan as the “Palazzo delle Colonne” due to its long porticoed facade, the building on the corner of Via Giuseppe Verdi and Via Monte di Pietà is considered by architectural historians to be one of the most interesting banking palazzos built in the city between the two Wars.

Designed by architects Giovanni Greppi and Giovanni Muzio, the palazzo stands out for what were pioneering engineering and technological solutions in their day: its main distinguishing feature is its vaults, an entire underground building which stands five floors and around 20 metres beneath the ground. During the second World War, it was considered the safest air raid shelter in Milan: some of the most precious artworks from the city’s museums were stored here from June 1940 onwards.

The volume – first in the ‘Photographic books’ collection from Intesa Sanpaolo’s Historical Archives – retraces the various steps in the building’s construction between 1932 and 1941, based on photographs from the Archives. Commissioned by Cariplo for documentary and publicity purposes, the images were taken by leading photographers of the day; they can be considered both an artwork in their own right and documents of rare value, even more so when studied alongside other sources from the Archives (from construction paperwork to correspondence between the architects and the bank’s directors).