Wright’s unrealized project and Scarpa’s redesign for the Masieri Foundation in Venice
The talented young architect Angelo Masieri, owner of a small XVIII-century building in Venice, died in a car accident in 1952 while driving in the United States to commission Frank Lloyd Wright the restoration project of his house on the Grand Canal. It was therefore decided to use the building as a memorial in honor of Masieri and in 1953 Wright presented the project for a building conceptually close to the typical Venetian one, but characterized by windows and floors of different heights and by a side elevation of the volume flanking the adjacent palace. Following criticism from the cultural circuit and the lack of approval from the Municipality of Venice in 1955, the task was first entrusted to Valeriano Pastor and finally to Carlo Scarpa, whose project was approved in 1972, partially realized after his death and inaugurated in 1983. A Foundation was established with the aim of hosting a multifunctional cultural center and accommodation for deserving architecture students, according to Masieri’s wishes. The idea of maintaining the historic façade on the Grand Canal, still in brick, was successful, separating it from the internal redesign of the building, modifying the original height of the floors and creating a living space for the students. The entrance from a narrow, hidden street increases the amazement of the visitor who can find Scarpa’s architectural quality here. In fact, as in the nearby Querini Stampalia Foundation, the poetry of the water that enters the building through the “Water Gate” echoes. The architectural promenade continues through spaces that over the years have been used for conferences, exhibitions, editorial activities and architectural research.
Ongoing conservative restoration
By will of the Masieri Family, since its origin the Foundation has linked its name to IUAV: the presidency of the institution is in fact currently held by the rector Benno Albrecht. The board of directors led by Albrecht promoted an open call which led to the sponsorship contract which made the maintenance work possible and will allow the re opening of the building. In these months, the maintenance work on the wall surfaces, the refinishing of the terrazzo floor, the pastellone, the marmorino and the metal profiles are being completed as well as the replacement of broken window glass, the maintenance of the electrical and plumbing systems, the restoration of the glass entry hall of the “Porta d’Acqua” and the entrance renovation. The partnership between the companies Heritage Asset Management, a spin-off of the IUAV and Galerie Negropontes, an art gallery founded in Paris, made these works possible.
Fondazione Masieri reopening in spring 2024
Probably in parallel with the Venice Art Biennale (20.04-24.11/2024), the Masieri Foundation will reopen to the public respecting the original aims: it will organize a series of conferences about conservative restoration and the refunctionalization of historic buildings, as well as events aimed to spread the knowledge of Carlo Scarpa’s works.
Discover the Fondazione Masieri, an architectural gem by Carlo Scarpa in the heart of Venice, with tours led by professional architects from MOVENICE!