Spring Program: Marnell Experimental Program in Italy (MXP)

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Italy has epitomized the role of architecture and design throughout its history. The Anthony A. Marnell, II, Italian Architecture Studies Program (MXP) investigates the history, culture and form of Italian architecture and urbanism from the Romans to the present.  Field studies and the design studio both begin in Rome, with a study/analysis of the layers of ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Novecento and current architecture in the city, and a design workshop with faculty and students from the University of Roma Tre.  Other travel in Italy includes Florence, with its exceptional Renaissance architecture, and the Veneto region: Vicenza and Venice, to study urban form of Italy along with works of Andrea Palladio, Carlo Scarpa and modern rationalist: Terragni.  Field studies to Switzerland, France and Austria examine architecture and design in countries whose recent connections to northern Italy are increasingly important to Italy’s design direction for the future. A retreat in Como and Milan focuses more on Italia Rationalism and Radicalism as well and contemporary production in Milan, a very active metropolis.


Milan and Como in the Lombardy region, where students are based for two months, is the heart of design, graphics, furniture design, and fashion for Europe.  Como, thirty miles from Milan, was initially established as an urban settlement during the Roman era in 59 AD.  Como has the features and appearance of a medieval city but is also the birthplace of Antonio Sant' Elia, the celebrated Futuristic Architect, and locus of important work by Giuseppe Terragni, a significant architect and pioneer of the Italian nationalistic movement.  Many of Terragni’s notable buildings are situated in the center of the city, including the Casa del Fascio, Casa Giuliani Frigerio, Novocomum, and Asilo Sant' Elia.  Como’s scale and accessibility, along with its proximity to Milan, site of the yearly April furniture fair, Salone Internazionale del Mobile, an element of program study, makes it an excellent base from which to investigate both local events and the surroundings of Western Europe.


The USC/MXP program explores design in all its dimensions, and a series of design projects, some done in collaboration with Italian architecture students and faculty in Rome and Milan, move from urban considerations to design strategy to design implementation.