Silent Architecture: Connecting the Contemporary and the Classic

Join AIA|DC and SMATCH for an exclusive lecture with noted Italian architect and urban designer Pier Carlo Bontempi. During this program, Bontempi will describe the classic beauty of Italian architecture, focusing on the serenity, robustness, economy and elegance of traditional buildings and their settings. He will present his views on how this beauty should have been reflected in the reconstruction of buildings in the decades following the Second World War and how it should be reflected in buildings today and in the future.

Bontempi will discuss concepts and show examples of how the continuation of Italian architectural traditions can be realized in new buildings through color, materials, form and design. He practices, and advocates for, an approach he says can be thought of in a larger way as a type of “silent architecture”: new buildings that respect and provide continuity with the past while accommodating modern needs.

Embodying the highest ideals of traditional classical and vernacular architecture in contemporary society can lead to positive cultural, environmental and artistic impacts. Buildings that are seamlessly woven into the urban fabric encourage conservation and continued investment rather than consumption and waste.

Sensitive to site, context and local built heritage, Bontempi’s work offers lessons for Washington given development pressures in and adjacent to the city’s neoclassical monumental core and historic neighborhoods, as well as reoccurring discussions on altering the city’s height limit.

Organized by: AIA|DC and SMATCH

Presented by: Pier Carlo Bontempi

Bontempi, whose firm is located outside Parma, Italy, is widely recognized for his achievements in traditional architecture and urban design. He is the recipient of the 2014 Richard H. Driehaus Prize from the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame; a Palladio Award (2008); and a Charter Award from the Congress for New Urbanism (2001).

Sponsored by: David M. Schwarz Architects and Neumann, Lewis and Buchanan Architects

After attending this course, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe why “silent architecture” is a design choice that leads to less environmental impact and greater sustainability.
  2. Explain how creating continuity between historic and modern in neighborhoods leads to increased appreciation for architecture.
  3. Discuss ways the concept of “silent architecture” can be translated from Parma, Italy to Washington, DC.
  4. List features of traditional Italian architecture and understand how they are reflected in Bontempi’s work.