Architect Isozaki revises Uffizi plans

Japanese artitect and italian ministry reach new agreement

Editorial Staff
April 21, 2005

It has been a long and bumpy road for Architect Arata Isozaki since he won the International competition to redesign the Uffizi Gallery in 1998, but it seems there may be a happy ending in sight after his most recent visit to Florence. His plans, which had been blocked by the Italian government, may soon be back in the works.


When the remains of the medieval church San Pier Scheraggio were recently discovered on the grounds of the Uffizi, Italian officials ordered Isozaki’s project to come to a complete halt. It had been determined that these remains were of important historical value and could not be removed. However, this was not the only problem Italian officials had with the project.


Initially, Isozaki’s winning designs were largely contested because, according to many, his modern approach did not quite fit with the classical style of the original Uffizi structure designed in the 16th century by Giorgio Vasari. The debate reached the highest levels of the Italian government and the project was eventually blocked by the Undersecretary of Cultural Heritage, Vittorio Sgarbi, who completely rejected the architects’ designs. The main issue of contention was a large overhang, or loggia, that was to be constructed above the new exit area in Piazza del Grano. In an attempt to resolve these problems the Italian Ministry and the Commune of Florence invited Isozaki for a visit last week to discuss the possibility of designing new plans that would work around the church remains discovered during construction digs.


Immediately after a tour of the excavation site and a series of meetings between the architect and local and national authorities, Isozaki announced that he had agreed to rethink his plans for the eastern exit of the Uffizi in order to incorporate the medieval remains. He has asked for two months to create an alternative plan.


Although this latest summit on the future of the Uffizi seems to have ended on a positive note, there are still many sceptics who believe Isozaki’s designs will never be accepted by the Italian government and that the newly discovered ruins are really only a delay tactic.

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