Cornell in Rome program to celebrate 30 years in March

Cornell in Rome celebrates its 30th anniversary in March, gathering program alumni, faculty and friends in the Eternal City for three days. The event features tours, receptions, lunches, and panels on art, architecture and the humanities.

Presenters include Peter Eisenman ’54, B.Arch ’55; former Cornell provost Don Randel and distinguished faculty from the colleges of Arts & Sciences and Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP).

The university’s longest running international program, Cornell in Rome provides a semester abroad for AAP students as well other Cornell students and visiting students from peer institutions, with instruction by Cornell and international visiting faculty. The learning environment, amid the sites, sounds and culture of Rome, is enriched by field trips throughout Italy.

More than 250 people are expected to attend the celebration, including members of the Cornell Board of Trustees, AAP Advisory Councilors, Cornell in Rome alumni and Cornellians interested in ancient and classical Roman history and culture.

“We are delighted to host friends from across the university community,” said Kent Kleinman, the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of AAP. “The three-day celebration will demonstrate how we use Rome as a laboratory and urban case study to study Western intellectual, architectural and artistic traditions.”

Anna Rita Flati, Cornell in Rome’s administrative director since the program’s inception, said she was especially looking forward to seeing former students.

“For four months we have been part of their life and they have been part of our life,” she said. “It’s always exciting to see how they have grown and what they have done so far.”

Many alumni will be seeing the program’s new home as of last spring for the first time. Instruction takes place among the frescos of Palazzo Santacroce, overlooking Piazza Benedetto Cairoli in central Rome. The site “combines the grandeur of a Roman 17th-century palace with a very rational layout of spaces, wonderful light and other amenities we lacked in our previous homes in Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne and Palazzo Lazzaroni,” Flati said.

“The space is particularly beautiful and functional at the same time, with lots of light,” said academic coordinator Jeffrey Blanchard, who has lived in Rome since 1978 and began teaching Renaissance and Baroque architecture and art courses to Cornell students there in 1988. “We have 10 huge windows looking out on a tree-filled piazza from most of our studio spaces. And the light is magnificent.”

At the 30th anniversary celebration, Eisenman will reflect on the influence and inspiration of Rome in a conversation with Kleinman titled “Rome as Ground,” on March 18 at the Campidoglio in the Sala della Protomoteca.

A panel discussion on March 19 at Villa Aurelia, “Reading Buildings, Building Texts,” will focus on the intertwined practices of humanities scholars and art and design practitioners. Introduced by Provost Michael Kotlikoff and moderated by Randel (who also is former president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the University of Chicago), the panel will comprise Gretchen Ritter ’83, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences; Thomas Campanella, associate professor of city and regional planning; Verity Platt, associate professor of classics and the history of art; and Kimberly Bowes, director of the American Academy in Rome.

Program faculty and staff will lead walking tours of Trastavere, the Appian Way, sites showing the Fascist redesign of Rome, Baroque building complexes by Borromini, locations (such as the Trevi Fountain) featured in the films “La Dolce Vita” and “La Grande Belleza,” museums, a contemporary art studio and other sites.

Along with AAP faculty members Werner Goehner and Mildred Warner from the Ithaca campus, there are 48 students in Rome this semester engaged in art, architecture, urban and liberal studies. Classes include Italian language and cinema, architectural history, drawing and photography.

Students will be on break during the celebration but will return in time for a closing reception March 20 at Palazzo Massimo, where the program began in 1987.

Although the last formal anniversary observation was in 2007, alumni of the Rome program return to visit every year.

“I think we all have the conviction that they appreciate their experience here and it affects their lives in various ways,” Blanchard said. “It takes that time for them to fully understand how important this experience was to them.”

Flati added: “They all come back to Rome again. It’s incredible. Some come more than once, some soon after, some very much later, but they all come back.”

This article originally appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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		 Students in a library in Rome