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This is a bit old but has anything changed since this 2004 article was first published?

Milan's controversial downtown development plan
By Christian Plumb

MILAN, Aug 5, 2004 (Reuters) - For a city whose last skyscraper was completed over 40 years ago and whose most beloved buildings are a gothic cathedral and a 19th century shopping arcade, the plan is nothing short of revolutionary.

A team of star architects led by Daniel Libeskind, backed by some of Italy's top insurers, has won the rights to build three skyscrapers including what would be Milan's tallest building and an exotic, sail-shaped tower, on a 15-block plot near the city centre.

The high-rise offices, to share the site with a new park and apartments for 5,000 people, will pierce a staid skyline long dominated by the early 1960s modernist Pirelli tower which a private plane rammed into seven months after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

"It's really an unprecedented project," Libeskind, who designed the "Freedom Tower" which will replace the destroyed World Trade Center, told Reuters.

"It's really how to create a spectacular new sort of 21st city, but a city which is connected with the traditions of the great architecture of Milan."

The plan has inflamed passions in a city usually more preoccupied with traffic and the cost of a cup of espresso. A local newspaper's web forum on the development has logged 652 messages, more than double the comments on marijuana in schools and other hot topics.

"Milan shouldn't be afraid of changing or of its future," wrote one excited resident. "Milan has a great chance to stay in the avant-garde from an architectural and urbanistic point of view and can't let it escape!"

Dissenters, including some prominent local architects, are just as adamant that the buildings are monstrosities and that aesthetics are taking a back seat to economics.

"CITIES WITHIN A CITY"

"They are a series of strange objects placed inside the city but with absolutely no effort to integrate with its surroundings or to build a reasonable urban environment," said Milan architect Vittorio Gregotti, who designed a similarly-sized redevelopment of an area occupied by an old Pirelli factory.

Zaha Hadid, the prize-winning Baghdad-born architect who also worked on the project, said the criticism amounted to ill-concealed envy.

"I'm sure there are some Italian architects who would like to be in on it," she said.

The development, to be spread over the next 10 years, would replace two thirds of a sprawling convention centre used during Milan's fashion week. A new larger "Fiera" going up on Milan's outskirts will house the centre from 2005.

The project is one of several which advocates say could put Italy's business capital back on the architectural map.

"Milan is living through an unprecedented urban transformation," said Mayor Gabriele Albertini at the signing ceremony.

"Quality is the common denominator for all the projects underway - more green, more beauty, more functionality, more international prestige."

Other Milanese construction projects which have been approved include a long-delayed "fashion city" designed by U.S.-based Cesar Pelli, and British architect Norman Foster's blueprint for the redevelopment of a former industrial complex between the city centre and its closest airport.

"PUBLICITY VALUE"

In the case of the Fiera redevelopment, sceptics question whether the bold project unveiled last month will really see the light of day.

"The skyscrapers cannot be built the way they are," said Antonio Monestiroli, head of the architecture department at Milan's Politecnico University, adding that the developers focused on the "publicity value" of the unusual shapes.

"They will almost certainly change the project from what they have presented in the models, and that is another negative," said Monestiroli, adding that the architects had "put together a bunch of buildings they designed for other sites".

The consortium backing the development is led by insurers Generali and RAS. They expect to spend about 1.5 billion euros, including 523 million for the land and the rights to develop it.

Particularly remarkable, Libeskind said, is the amount of land devoted to park space - over 70 percent of the area - "a space that would really be a kind of lung for Milan, which is such a dense city with not much green space".
 

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Well, the fiera is still in use - and it seems that there is no end to it.
Don't forget, we're talking about Italy here: there's a huge gap between what someone is planning and what will be realized in the end.

Saluti,
Torsten
 

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This project is dangereous, mayor wants milan to have international prestige but does not care about the identity and surroundings, like it happens for years. at least this is a nicer project, not like other crappy residential projects that kills milan's identity.
 

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any pictures
 
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