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Stazione Centrale di Milano
“Inactivity is death.” -Benito Mussolini
Since the summer of 1988, when I first arrived at the Stazione Centrale di Milano, I have frequently stopped over at the Milan Central Railway Station and observed its long years of implemented improvements. This station is my favorite in the world for its majestic visual qualities. Not only is it my personal favorite, but also it influenced to model others like the Union Station in Washington D.C. I am able to see its influence in many cities across the globe.
Inaugurated in 1931, Stazione Centrale di Milano replaced the old central station from 1864. King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy initiated the new station on April of 1906. But it was in 1912 when architect Ulisse Stacchini won the contest for its construction. Due to the Italian economic crisis during World War I, construction proceeded very slowly, and the project grew more and more complex and majestic. This happened especially when Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister of Italy and wanted the station to represent the power of the fascist regime.
My first arrival experience was a powerful memory in summer of 1988. The scale of architecture and echoes of train engines and sounds of rolling cartwheels euphorically embellished the heroic scales of the station architectures. To a young architectural student, the complex ensemble of public activities revolving around mass transportation was astounding and inspiring. Moreover, as it housed all the diverse activities under a monumental but beautiful and efficient architecture, it became my first public architectural fascination.
Since revisiting the station again last season, it has gone through a major renovation, and I can appreciate the details much easier than before when there were clutters of kiosks and multiple layers of ticketing counters. What a gateway to Italy if I am arriving from the north, west, or east! The station not only represents the modern classic Italian architecture, but also unwraps the complexities of train travel.
Photography by D.B. Kim.