Architects and designers challenge
dismissal of Milan councillor

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Stefano Boeri

News: architects and designers including Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Ross Lovegrove, and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have sent an open letter to Milan's mayor calling for the reinstatement of architect and editor Stefano Boeri (above), who was sacked last week as the city's councillor for design, fashion and culture.

In the letter, signatories including Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, French design duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and Domus magazine editor-in-chief Joseph Grima expressed their "regret and disappointment" over Boeri's sudden exit.

"This unmotivated dismissal seems to us inexplicable," states the letter to Mayor Giuliano Pisapia, which was also signed by architects Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel and Bjarke Ingels of BIG.

"Stefano Boeri is one of Italy's foremost cultural exponents: he has taught in universities in Italy and abroad, curated exhibitions, designed buildings and written books that have been translated into many languages.

"Thanks to Boeri's many initiatives [...] Milan had finally succeeded in reaffirming itself forcefully on the international stage as an epicentre of art, design, fashion and culture.

The letter closes by urging the mayor to "put personal differences aside" and reconsider his decision to dismiss Boeri.

Trained as an architect, Boeri had relinquished a teaching post at Politecnico di Milano and resigned as editor-in-chief of Abitare magazine in order to become a councillor for Mayor Pisapia, to whom he had narrowly lost in the primary round of the mayoral election.

Since taking up the role in June 2011, his efforts to promote Milan's reputation for art, design and culture included Piano City, a scheme encouraging piano-playing residents to perform concerts in their living rooms, and Book City, a festival of readings, author talks and literary events.

He also organised major exhibitions of artists such as Picasso, Bramantino, Jeff Wall and Marina Abramovic, another of the letter's signatories.

His unexpected departure comes just a fortnight before thousands of international guests descend on the city for the Salone del Mobile and numerous other design events and exhibitions taking place alongside it – see all news and products from Milan 2013.

We previously reported on a complex of buildings completed by Stefano Boeri Architetti in northern Sardinia.

Here is the letter and the full list of signatories:


March 27th, 2013

Dear Mayor Pisapia,

It is with regret and disappointment that we learn that Stefano Boeri was dismissed from his position as Councillor for Design, Fashion and Culture for the city of Milan.

Thanks to the energy and commitment of Boeri, and despite the deepening of the gravest crisis to have faced Italy since the postwar years, since 2011 Milan has succeded in projecting an image of renewed cultural vibrancy and dynamism onto the international stage. Thanks to Boeri's many initiatives — citywide events such as Book City and Piano City, or international exhibitions of internationally renowned artists such as the Marina Abramovic, Picasso, Bramantino, Alberto Garutti and Jeff Wall — Milan had finally succeeded in reaffirming itself forcefully on the international stage as an epicentre of art, design, fashion and culture.

This unmotivated dismissal deprives Milan of one of its greatest assets—an individual who possesses the intelligence, energy, motivation and global network of relationships needed to make Milan an unrivaled protagonist of the European cultural scene of the 21st century. Stefano Boeri is one of Italy's foremost cultural exponents: he has taught in universities in Italy and abroad, curated exhibitions, designed buildings and written books that have been translated into many languages. As such, this unmotivated dismissal seems to us inexplicable.

In this moment of grave crisis, we urge you to put personal differences aside and, for the good of the city, reconsider your decision.

Yours sincerely,

Marina Abramović - Artist, New York
Iwan Baan - Photographer, Amsterdam
Tatiana Bilbao - Architect, Tatiana Bilbao Architects, Ciudad de Mexico
Daniel Birnbaum – Director, Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Petra Blaisse - Landscape Architect, Inside Outside, Rotterdam
Erica Bolton and Jane Quinn - Directors, Bolton Quinn, London
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec - Designers, Paris
Maurizio Cattelan - Artist, Milan
Teddy Cruz - Architect, Teddy Cruz Architects, San Diego
Chris Dercon – Director, Tate Modern, London
Elizabeth Diller - Architect, New York
Jimmie Durham - Artist, Berlin
Okwui Enwezor - Curator, Munich
Amos Gitai - Film Director, Tel Aviv - Paris
Joseph Grima - Editor in chief, Domus, Milan
Zaha Hadid - Architect, Zaha Hadid Architects, London
Nikolaus Hirsch - Dean, Städelschule Frankfurt
Li Hu - Architect, Beijing
Bjarke Ingles - Architect, Bjarke Ingels Group Architects, Copenhagen
Rem Koolhaas - Architect, Rotterdam
Koyo Kouoh - Art Editor, Dakar
Armin Linke - Photographer, Berlin
Ross Lovegrove - Designer, London
Qingyun Ma - Architect, Shanghai
Michael Maltzan - Architect, Michael Maltzan Architecture, Los Angeles
Giancarlo Mazzanti - Architect, Mazzanti Arquitectos, Bogotà
Shelley McNamara & Yvonne Farrell - Architects, Grafton Architects, Dublin
Mohsen Mostafavi – Dean, GSD Harvard, Cambridge
Alexei Muratov - Journalist, Moscow
Jean Nouvel - Architect, Paris
Hans Ulrich Obrist - Co-director, Serpentine Gallery, London
Julia Peyton Jones - Director Serpentine Gallery, London
Bas Princen - Photographer, Amsterdam
Edi Rama – Artist and politician, Tirana
Anri Sala - Artist, Paris
Tomas Saraceno - Artist, Berlin
Milica Topalovic - Architect, Zurich

  • LoL

    Where is Le Corbusier, you forgot to ask him!

  • lol

    Ahaha, silly political regime system. Italy is 80 years behind contemporary culture.

    • nicola

      Actually, being 80 years behind contemporary architecture will bring Italy back to the best time Modern architecture ever experienced in that country, so it will be a positive thing!

  • andrea

    Unuseful article, it doesn’t recognise the political point of view that’s the most important in this question. You can’t govern a city only purposing exhibitions and new buildings. I’m an Italian architect but absolutely agree with the mayor’s decision. Don’t be superficial.

  • alan

    Boeri is too ambitious to admit his own faults. Half of the time he was critical of his own political party. Personally I believe the worst thing is that as a councillor of culture he doesn’t need to comment on national politics all the time, and he was probably aiming higher.

  • dromberg

    I am really curious how much all those architects know about political issues of the city of Milan. Just because Boeri is your buddy and a fellow architect doesn’t mean he is a good local politician. I am not saying he is not, but the whole initiative seems pretty pretentious to me (so just in line with a lot of the architecture they are producing).

  • dagoberto

    You really don’t know Italy and you really don’t know Boeri. He is an opportunist, silly, ambitious and a bad architect (visit what he has built if you don’t believe me). In his institutional role he gives public money to his buddies without transparency. Political career is a passe-partout to reach new professional opportunities for him. Pisapia is a very serious mayor and an honest man and he has done the only right thing. International architecture’s star system is a sort of mafia gang, totally auto-referential, the new Sopranos.