The Shanghai of Italy
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, April 25, 2012
Milan: long the dormant giant of wealth and privacy has come alive. It is emerging as a roaring colossal. What once was concealed behind impenetrable boulders of stone, mortar and heavily bolted doors – a city of hidden gardens and conservative residences, is exploding into a Mecca of glass and ostentation.
While Italy’s economy is tittering on collapse, Milan is spending itself out of the abyss. This is a strange phenomenon fueled by a stagnant bureaucracy. Conservative Milan did not intent to flaunt its wealth; it was forced to. This building boom was planned over ten years ago, when recession and sub-primes were words that had no resonance. However, the building approval process, moving at an excruciating snail’s pace through an archaic and moribund system for permits took a generation to come to fruition. And now in Italy’s worst recession, Milan is building! World-Class architects such as Zaha Hadid is building her first high-rise, others have already risen. These new glass palaces rival any in the world for ostentation – both office and residential complexes are rising in here-to-fore dormant neighborhoods. My hotel happened to be located in one of them. Porta Garibaldi has morphed from a sleepy dilapidated neighborhood into what is about to become the epicenter of commerce and chic residences.
A banking center by Cesar Pelli is almost compete and has attracted arcres of new development
Porto Garibaldi before its transformation into a new city
Construction of new buildings along the highway
As you know, I am in Milan for the Salone Internazionale del Mobile – the most prestigious furniture show in the world. Until 2006 it was located in a complex of 16 massive buildings – adequate and flawed – hard to access – sprawled over acres of land – poor transportation and infrastructure. But in reality, it sufficed… The Milanese thought otherwise and built a new Colossus with exquisite architectural details, superb transportation access, parking, and highway arteries with direct access. Still, traffic congestion is endemic, but its esthetics is amazing.
The new Fierra an all glass enclosed complex designed by Massimiliano Fuksas
The Milanese are warm friendly people and the eating is divine… I will NOT divulge my favorite restaurants for fear they will be inaccessible when I need a reservation… go find your own. They are on every corner and tiny side street.
In the next few days I will report my impressions of the SALONE INTERNAZIONALE DEL MOBILE