Dec. 6, 2007
Roberto Einaudi carries on family legacy from CU to Rome
ROME -- From the classrooms of Ithaca to the historic streets of Rome, Roberto Einaudi has remained close to the university where he trained as an architect and where his father taught for many years. The Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell, established in 1961, bears his father's name.
Einaudi, B.Arch. '61, was a founder of the Cornell in Rome Program of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, and was its first director from 1986 to 1995. He also found the program its first base of operations in the Palazzo Massimo alla Colonne, belonging to one of Italy's princely families.
"At the very beginning, one of the primary needs of the college was trying to make the whole thing work," he said during a 20th anniversary celebration and reunion of program alumni held last March in Rome. "We hired a young woman, Anna Rita Flati, who had worked with me since she was 18 years old at the architectural firm of Brown, Daltas and Associates."
That hire is part of Einaudi's legacy to the Rome program -- Flati has been a mainstay throughout its history and serves as its administrative director.
Einaudi is a member of a prominent family in Italy whose influence extends from agriculture and publishing to economics, banking and national and international politics. His grandfather, Luigi Einaudi (1874-1961), was an economist and the second president of the Italian Republic from 1948 to 1955. His father, Mario, was an educator and anti-fascist who emigrated to the United States in the 1930s and first came to Cornell during World War II.
"My father was a professor of political science at Messina University in the 1930s," Einaudi said in an interview conducted earlier this year at his home next to Campo di Fiore in Rome. "When the Fascist Party made it obligatory to pledge allegiance to the Fascists, my father refused to do so and came to the United States."
Roberto was born in New York City in 1938, while his father was teaching at Fordham University. "In the middle of the Second World War, he was called to Cornell to teach the U.S. officers who were going to the campaign in Italy, so they would know something about the country they were going to, in order to be able to relate to the Italians as a liberation force."
While his father taught government, Einaudi joined Cornell as an architecture student in 1956.
"It was a return to Ithaca, because I had left Ithaca for three years to go to Philips Exeter Academy," he said.
"I was, as a young boy, very good in mathematics, and I loved to draw," he said. "So when I discussed with my parents what my future was, I said, 'I might become an artist.' And they replied, 'Since you have the virtue of being good both in drawing and in the technical fields, why don't you try architecture?' It was a very good suggestion."
Einaudi's first job in an architecture firm came in 1957, when he worked with Louis I. Kahn in Philadelphia. He has lived and worked in Rome since 1962. Today he is a partner and architect in Studio Einaudi in Rome, which he founded in 1977. The studio specializes in design and supervision of museums and exhibits, restoration of historic buildings, and urban projects in historic and archaeological centers including Rome and Naples.
Significant projects by the studio have included La Sapienza/the Museum of Classical Art, the museum at Casa di Goethe, the Capitoline Museums, and renovations of Palazzo Massimo alla Colonne and the American Academy in Rome's Villa Aurelia and main building.
He has also been a visiting lecturer and critic at institutions in the United States, Australia and Europe.
Currently, Studio Einaudi is responsible for the excavation, restoration and reuse of an ancient Roman theater buried under the modern city of Naples -- "unveiling the stratifications of history in a manner that the visitor will be able to experience the site as if on a time machine," Einaudi said.
His work in preserving the past also extends to his own family history.
"I'm writing a book looking into the family back to the 1600s, and going through the time when modern Italy was slowly being formed," he said.
A farm near Dogliani, which his grandfather established, is part of the legacy. "The house and land bought by my grandfather in 1897 [is] where we still make the family wine, where we have the family home," he said.
Einaudi is organizing an exhibit in Rome to commemorate the 60th anniversary next year of his grandfather's election to the presidency, concurrent with a project "to translate Luigi Einaudi's writings into English to make them available in the Anglo-Saxon world," he said.
In early 2007, Einaudi was nominated president of Fondazione Luigi Einaudi di Roma.
"[It was] first set up in 1962, immediately after the death of my grandfather," he said.
Another foundation, the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi in Turin, maintains a research library of more than 225,000 volumes, formed around the donation by the Einaudi family of his grandfather's library of 70,000 books, Einaudi said.
His family also remains involved with the Einaudi Center at Cornell. The center and the Institute for European Studies receive support from Einaudi's brother, Luigi, through the San Giacomo Charitable Foundation. The resources are being used by the Einaudi Center for its Foreign Policy Initiative. Luigi Einaudi has been a Bartels World Affairs Lecturer at Cornell and is a former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States.