Famous architect Piano to design new Genoa bridge

CHRISTMAS GIFT::The firm responsible for the collapsed bridge ‘would not even place a stone,’ but must pay for rebuilding. It plans to legally challenge its exclusion


Thu, Dec 20, 2018 - Page 7

Genoa authorities on Tuesday chose a design by Italy’s most famous living architect Renzo Piano for a bridge to replace the Morandi overpass that collapsed in August, killing 43 people and injuring dozens.

Piano, 81, who is originally from Genoa, had in September submitted a proposal for the new bridge.

“This will last for a 1,000 years and will be built of steel,” he said.

It will “have elements of a boat, because that is something from Genoa,” he said, adding that it would be a streamlined and luminous white structure.

“We have asked the architect Renzo Piano to oversee the project to ensure that the original idea is respected,” Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci said.

The contract was awarded to a consortium of three Italian construction companies: Salini Impregilo, Fincantieri and Italferr, a unit of state-owned railway company Ferrovie dello Stato, the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport said in a statement.

The proposal is based on an idea donated free of charge by Piano, whose notable works include the Pompidou Centre in Paris, along with British architect Richard Rogers, and the new Palais de Justice in the French capital.

The project would cost 202 million euros (US$230 million) — excluding value-added tax — and would be completed in 12 months, Bucci said.

The concrete bridge, the responsibility of infrastructure group Atlantia’s unit Autostrade per l’Italia, collapsed on Aug. 14, severing part of a motorway linking Genoa with southern France.

That put at risk the activity of the port, which last year accounted for 1.5 percent of Italy’s GDP.

“Twelve months to help relaunch Genoa ... that is the dream that we are hoping to give the Genoese before Christmas in memory of the victims of this terrible tragedy,” Salini Impregilo chief executive Pietro Salini said.

Public works are to revive the economy and create jobs again, Salini added.

The government blamed Autostrade for the disaster and decided to exclude the business from the reconstruction project, even though it would have to pay for it.

Autostrade and some of its top managers are under investigation for the collapse.

Atlantia, controlled by the Benetton family, has put aside 350 million euros to cover the estimated cost of rebuilding.

“We promised the families of the victims that Autostrade would not even place a stone and that’s the case,” Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio said.

Autostrade is planning to file a legal challenge against the government decree that excludes it from rebuilding the viaduct.

Additional reporting by Reuters