"Le Autostrade Sopraelevate": Pier Luigi Nervi's Proposals for Steel Highway Viaducts in California

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Among Pier Luigi Nervis commissions in the wake of his global recognition for his arenas and structures at the 1960 Rome Olympics, one stands out for its extension of Nervis forms and techniques into a new material. In early 1962, the Kaiser Steel Corporation took out advertisements in national magazines that capitalized on the unpopularity of concrete freeways being built for the U.S. Interstate Highway System. Steel freeways, Kaiser claimed, could be built with half the bulkhalf the thicknesshalf the number of columns required by conventional elevated freeways. Kaiser subsequently invited Nervi to produce conceptual designs for several model projects that were eventually presented to the California Department of Transportation. After working with Nervi on feasibility and costing studies, the State finally abandoned them in favor of more conventional projects. While these projects are unique in Nervis career for their study of steel, their forms were based on his earlier concrete designs: the prefabricated concrete sections of the Corso Francia viaduct in Rome and ruled-surface piers in the Corso Francia and the Palazzo dello Sport.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of IASS Annual Symposia
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Highway Design
  • Steel Construction
  • Pier Luigi Nervi


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