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Finding aid for the Aldo Rossi papers, 1943-1999
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical / Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Archival Materials note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Aldo Rossi papers
    Date (inclusive): 1943-1999
    Number: 880319
    Creator/Collector: Rossi, Aldo, 1931-1997
    Physical Description: 34.0 linear feet (31 boxes, 14 flat file folders, and 1 roll)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The Aldo Rossi papers contain a selection of works by the prolific architect, writer, artist and theorist. The collection includes notebooks, lectures and course materials, assorted writings and correspondence, drafts for publications, clippings and ephemera. A set of architectural drawings for the Palazzo dei Congressi, Milan (not realized) consisting of preliminary sketches and design plans as well as an architectural design in pencil and oil are also included.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in Italian.

    Biographical / Historical Note

    One of the most important Italian architects of the second half of the 20th century Aldo Rossi is considered by some to be an integral author of the postmodern movement of architecture. Rossi received international acclaim not just as an architect but also as a designer, artist and theorist.
    Rossi was born in 1931 in Milan. He began his studies in architecture in 1949 at Milan Polytechnic. He completed his architecture degree in 1959 and in 1965 Rossi was appointed to the Architecture faculty at Milan Polytechnic. Rossi was suspended from teaching in Italy in 1971 along with members of the Council of the Faculties of Architecture, Milan due to his political activities in support of the student movement. However, he returned to teaching in Italy four years later. Rossi taught at many universities in Europe and the United States including Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich, Cooper Union in New York and the University of Venice in Italy. He also lectured substantially and regularly attended conferences domestically and internationally.
    Rossi's numerous publications include the influential L'archittetura della città and Autobiografia scientifica. From his student days onward he contributed to various journals, especially Casabella taking a position at the journal as editor from 1964. His articles and essays considered the city as a place of collective memory, charged with symbolic values, asking architecture to reflect upon its own history.
    Rossi was a founder of the Tendenza movement, an architecture movement with origins in Italy, sometimes referred to as Neo-Rationalism. Tendenza rejected the elaborate and utopian design tropes of the avant-garde and focused on the political and critical aspects of a realistic architecture. Rossi's architecture used a limited vocabulary stripping architecture to its core. His work focused on simple typology and morphology manifested in primal forms such as cones, cylinders, prisms and cubes. Among Rossi's most well known architectural projects are the Teatro del Mondo for the Venice Biennale; the Cemetery of San Cataldo in Modena; the Carlo Felice Theater in Genoa; and the Gallaratese Housing Complex outside of Milan. At various times he collaborated with architects Gianni Braghieri, Morris Adjmi and Umberto Barbieri.
    For some, Rossi's drawings and design work are equally if not more important than his architectural projects. Influenced by the Surrealist painter Giorgio Di Chirico his artworks have an enigmatic, poetic quality. Rossi also designed furniture and in 1980 Alessi began producing Rossi's designs for tea services and coffee makers. His art was regularly exhibited nationally and internationally.
    The Pritzker Architecture Prize was awarded to Rossi in 1990. He also received the 1991 American Institute of Architecture Honor Award, the 1991 Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture and the Campione d'Italia nel mondo. Rossi died in Milan in 1997.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Aldo Rossi papers, 1943-1999, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 880319.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired from Aldo Rossi in 1988.

    Processing History

    Preliminary processing and inventorying were completed upon receipt. Laura Schroffel wrote the finding aid in 2013 under Ann Harrison's supervision.

    Related Archival Materials note

    Other collections relating to Aldo Rossi may also be found at the following locations: Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA); Deutsches Architektur Museum, Frankfurt (DAM); Maxxi Collection, Rome; Aldo Rossi Foundation, Milan; Museum of Modern Art, New York (MOMA).

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Aldo Rossi papers contain a selection of works by the prolific architect, writer, artist and theorist. Manuscripts, typescripts and clippings make up most of the papers. The writings in the collection represent Rossi's process of transforming texts. Similar ideas and often sections of writing appear in altered form as notes, lectures, course materials and published works. Rossi's iterative writing is often annotated, and drafts of the same works appear in more than one series. Also included are several examples of his projects and designs represented in sketches, formal building and site plans, and notebooks. The highlights of these materials are the stunning notebooks which capture Rossi's artistic dexterity as well as his theoretical interests.
    Among the lectures and course material in Series I are unpublished speeches, conference papers, and notes for teaching. Subjects include design theory, history and principles of architecture, and rational architecture. These materials show that Rossi lectured extensively both domestically and internationally.
    Series II includes drafts of Rossi's books L'archittetura della città and Autobiografia scientifica as well as work he contributed to other authors' books, notes, and preliminary and final drafts of his writings. This series also includes project plans, project descriptions and official letters for such projects as Piazza di Sannazzaro and the Scandicci competition. Rossi bibliographies, ephemera, photographs, and additional clippings are located in this series. While most clippings comprise articles by Rossi or about Rossi there are also materials outside of this scope that were most likely used for Rossi's research or that reflect his personal interests.
    Series III contains correspondence and business documents such as incoming and outgoing letters concerning current topics in architecture, symposia and interview proposals, work contracts, invitations, publishing information, student research papers on Rossi buildings, and financial statements. Color slides or photographs are occasionally included with correspondence. Correspondents include Carlo Aymonino, Peter Eisenman, Léon Krier, Rob Krier, Paolo Portoghesi, Hans Hollein, and Manfredo Tafuri.
    Series IV includes 32 of the original 47 numbered notebooks, also known as "i quaderni azzurri," that highlight Rossi's architectural creative process. Rossi often drew before, after and during the construction of a project. Some notebooks contain graphic sketches, often in color, revealing Rossi's practice of reinventing repetitive design themes. The 32 notebooks display the minimal elegance and gravity of Rossi's artistic practice, with drawings that were often highly evocative of a given design's physical realization. This series also includes other notebooks and sketchbooks. Notebook content often includes notes, sketches, drawings, comments on travels, analyses, and drafts of letters. A photocopy of Il libro azzurro notebook and sketchbook as well as photocopies of other sketchbooks and notebooks are also included. Additionally, typescript drafts of writing including draft versions of Autobiografia scientifica can be found here.
    Series V comprises drawings and plans with no associated papers. The Palazzo dei Congressi plans are filed here and include several building plans with hand-drawn color details. This series also includes a detailed drawing in color signed by Rossi.
    All of the series in the Rossi papers maintain the original order of the acquisition; consequently some work in each series does not precisely reflect series descriptions.


    The collection is organized in five series: ; ; ; ; .Series I. Lectures and course material, 1954-1985 Series II. Drafts and writings, 1943-1999 Series III. Correspondence and business documents, 1954-1988 Series IV. Notebooks, 1949-1986 Series V. Architectural designs, 1972-1982

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Kaufmann, Emil, 1942-
    Le Corbusier, 1887-1965
    Loos, Adolf, 1870-1933
    Ungers, O. M. (Oswald Mathias)

    Subjects - Topics

    Architecture--Italy--20th century
    Architecture-Study and teaching

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Architectural drawings--20th century
    Black-and-white negatives
    Color photographs
    Color slides
    Correspondence--20th century
    Gelatin silver prints--20th century
    Photographic prints--20th century
    Sketchbooks--Italy--20th century


    Aymonino, Carlo
    Eisenman, Peter, 1932-
    Hollein, Hans, 1934-
    Krier, Léon
    Krier, Rob
    Tafuri, Manfredo