César Pelli: The Skyscrapers and the New Milan

César Pelli passed away aged 92. The Argentine architect was known for designing some of the world’s most famous skyscrapers, including the Unicredit Tower in the Porta Nuova district in Milan

The Unicredit Tower, Porta Nuova district, Milan

Born in Tucumán (1926), northern Argentina, César Pelli studied architecture in Argentina and at the University of Illinois, where he was granted a scholarship in 1952. From 1954 to 1964 he joined Eero Saarinen’studio, where he designed the TWA Terminal at JFK airport, which reopened as a hotel in 2019.

The master plan of Porta Nuova, Milan, by César Pelli

Between the Sixties and the Seventies he alternated periods of work in Argentina with others in the USA, with different architecture firms, until 1977, when he founded Cesar Pelli and Associates, now Pelli Clarke and Associates, with architect Fred W. Clarke and his wife Diana Balmori, married at the end of the Forties.

César Pelli was a former dean of the Yale School of Architecture and in 1995 was awarded the AIA (American Institute of Architects) Gold Medal.

Salesforce Tower, San Francisco

Among César Pelli’s most renowned projects are the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, inaugurated in 1998, two landmarks of the Malaysian city-state, featuring in movies, and among the first examples of sustainable buildings thanks to the studies on ventilation and reuse of energy. Being 452 m tall (+ a 73 m pinnacle), they were the world’s tallest towers until 2004.

Petronas Twin Towers, a landmark of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia

César Pelli’s works include many local “tallest” buildings, such as One Canada Square in London, the UK’s tallest building until 2012, the Iberdrola Tower in Bilbao (the tallest building in the Basque Country), Gran Torre Santiago in Santiago del Chile (2010), the country’s tallest building, and the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, the tallest building in San Francisco, just to name a few.

One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London

A tribute to Milan

César Pelli left his mark also on Milan: he is the author of the master plan of the new Porta Nuova district, including the Unicredit Tower, inaugurated in 2014. The Unicredit Tower, 231 m, including the pinnacle, is the tallest building in Italy and a symbol of Milan’s new skyline. [Roberta Mutti]

Unicredit Tower, Porta Nuova, Milan

Related Articles


Agape: 50 years of excellence

“In realtà, volevamo fare dell’altro” (“Actually, we wanted to do something else”) is the title of the exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Agape, a company founded on the banks of the Mincio River in 1973.

Read more »