Arts in Palazzo Mezzanotte
Palazzo Mezzanotte, headquarter of Borsa Italiana, was built in 1932 by the architect Paolo Mezzanotte in order to merge in one sole area all the market trading places which were spread allover Milan.
The impressive 36 meters high façade is an icon of Rationalism: it shows travertine blocks combined with allegoric figures designed by Leone Lodi and Gemignano Cibau, symbolizing wealth and abundance. On the sides of the building an inscription plaque of marble stands out: it represents the Roman Ruins discovered during the excavation phase.
The main trading floor, Sala delle Grida, was conceived as a large covered square, equipped with pioneering technology: a huge, luminous electric board, the biggest built in Italy at that time, 300 phone booths and 800 telephones, each one with different call options, automatic calls elevators. The upper floors were dedicated to the Committee Board office, whose furniture originated from the sketches of the architect Mezzanotte.
The underground floor is adorned with Richard Ginori wall decorations, designed by Giò Ponti. At that time a public restaurant and a jazz club called Taverna Ferrario were hosted in that area. The ornamental pattern of decorations was based on the allegoric meaning of wealth and abundance: there were female picture referring to The Grain and the Cereal Market, trees adorned with fishes and birds. An amusing theme combined with fortresses, arrows, swords brightened the Underground, an otherwise space without sunlight.
The ruins of an Imperial Roman Theatre were discovered during the excavation of the foundation of Palazzo Mezzanotte. The famous theatre is mentioned by Decimus Magnus Ausonius in the “Eulogy to Milan”, a 4th Century A.D. poem. Its importance is reflected also in the toponymy of Via San Vittore al Teatro (a street name). The original project of Palazzo Mezzanotte was entirely transformed due to this finding. Nowadays a glass floor offers a great view on the Roman Ruins.
The years of renovation coincided with institutional and operational reform of the trading market. When all the works were completed, Palazzo Mezzanotte became the headquarters of the Stock Exchange Board, the new self-governing body of the market, which in 1998, was handed over to the new private management company of Borsa Italiana S.p.A.
In 2002, after 50 years of outcry trading, Sala delle Grida was transformed into a Multimedia Congress Center.