Venice, start of the project to restore the Procuratie Vecchie in St. Mark's Square. They will be open to the public

Venice, restoration project kicks off on the Procuratie Vecchie in St. Mark's Square. For the first time in history they will be open to the public.

A redevelopment and revitalization project will affect the Procuratie Vecchie of St. Mark’s Square in Venice: these are the imposing buildings that enclose the north side of the square. 152 meters long, they are in the collective imagination for their long series of arches (fifty in all) to which correspond an equal number of windows in the two upper floors (so there are one hundred in all). The first building dates back to the twelfth century, then the Procuratie Vecchie were remodeled in the following centuries: today their appearance is what they took on in the sixteenth century following the designs of Bartolomeo Bon and Jacopo Sansovino in the city’s renewal program ordered by Doge Andrea Gritti. Built to house public offices, they are now used for commercial activities on the ground floor and offices on the upper floors.

Renovation work on the large complex was commissioned from Milan-based David Chipperfield Architects by Generali Insurance (to which a large part of the Procuratie Vecchie belongs) in 2017: after obtaining permission from the Superintendence in 2019, there is now also permission from the Venice City Council, so the project can get underway. The project, reads a note from the municipality, “will not only facilitate the flow of the public through enhanced internal circulation, but will also restore integrity to the structure through the restoration of the architectural work as a whole and in particular the elements that have deteriorated or been compromised. The project will reunify the interiors of the Procuratie Vecchie and introduce clarity to the building. The restoration work will recover original Venetian materials and traditional workmanship by involving specialized companies and local artisans. The floors, for example, will be Venetian terrazzo and pastellone. These works will complement those of the 2009 project by architect Gretchen Harnischfeger Alexander, which is still in progress and includes the renovation of the main facade on St. Mark’s Square, as well as some interior facades, some structural work and a new fire protection system.”

In addition, much of the Procuratie Vecchie will be open to the public for the first time in history. Part of the building will house the headquarters of The Human Safety Net Foundation, Generali’s initiative for projects supporting vulnerable communities in countries where the insurance group has a presence. The public will have access to the top floor and in particular to the elevated courtyards: the accessibility and usability of the building will be reorganized (including the insertion of new stairwells) and there will be new exhibition spaces all open to the public, as well as work spaces and an auditorium. The project also includes the restoration of the Giardini Reali, which will be taken care of by Venice Gardens Foundation in collaboration with Generali: scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.

“The restoration and renovation of the Procuratie Vecchie,” say Gabriele Galateri di Genola and Philip Donnet, president and CEO of Generali, respectively, “will restore to its original splendor one of the most beautiful places in Venice, known throughout the world. It is a place closely linked to Generali’s history, sharing the Marcian Lion as its symbol, which for the first time in 500 years will be open to the public through our initiative The Human Safety Net. The project we are announcing today is part of the broader vision of the recovery of the entire Marciana area, which we have been promoting with pride and passion, and will foster new development opportunities for the city. Special thanks go to all the authorities with whom we have dialogued in recent months, Superintendency and the City of Venice in particular, for supporting the launch of this project.”

“Working on this extraordinary building with a Client so dedicated to the city of Venice,” says architect David Chipperfield, “continues to be a great privilege. Over the past two years we have come to better understand and respect the complexities of the building concealed behind its grand public fa├žade. In adapting the building to accommodate a more public program for The Human Safety Net, we sought to strike a balance between infrastructure needs and the restoration and renovation of the historic structure. We are driven by the dual ambition to reunify the architectural work and the building’s identity as a place of work, meeting and dialogue for the city.”

“The city administration has immediately supported Generali’s project on the Procuratie Vecchie, according to the principle of subsidiarity,” says Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro. “With this operation, Venice once again demonstrates its vocation for listening and dialogue on international issues, opening one of the most important city spaces. We are doing all this thanks to the contribution of a private company that knows how to do its accounts well. Generali’s decision to return to the heart of Venice shows that we are a city of a thousand possibilities, where investments guarantee an important return, with certain time and costs: I say this especially to other entrepreneurs and other Foundations. Opening an international headquarters in Venice, as well as in Mestre or Marghera, guarantees a gigantic image and economic return, and we, as an Administration, are available to provide all the necessary information. The main element of the project we are presenting today is that it will bring new jobs to the ancient city and, as a result, also new residents. Venice, I am sure, will attract more and more young people and talents, who are already working to build our future, challenging the world’s largest metropolitan cities in competition.”

Pictured: the Procuratie Vecchie. Ph. Credit Andrzej Otr─?bski

Venice, start of the project to restore the Procuratie Vecchie in St. Mark's Square. They will be open to the public
Venice, start of the project to restore the Procuratie Vecchie in St. Mark's Square. They will be open to the public

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