Palazzo Mezzanotte, the current headquarter of Borsa Italiana

Palazzo Mezzanotte, the current headquarter of Borsa Italiana

In 1928, the Chamber of Commerce entrusted architect Paolo Mezzanotte with designing the new Exchange building. The idea was to unite the Stock Exchange facilities into a single building with those of the other Exchanges (silk, cocoons, grain) that did not have their own seat at Palazzo Broggi in Piazza Cordusio.
The design presented by Mezzanotte was characterised by an imposing classical facade made from white marble, dominated by a tympanum supported by four enormous columns. Sculptures of allegorical figures in high relief were placed at the bases and at the tops of the columns.
A large hall for the Stock Exchange sessions was planned at the centre of the building, reaching upwards to the top of the building and closed in by a skylight.
The upper floors, which rise up around the hall, were intended for the offices of the Stockbrokers' Executive Committee and the other institutions involved in the running of the Stock Exchange. The underground floor, which was decorated by artistic majolica designed by Gio Ponti, was furnished with a day hotel and a restaurant with live music, named the Ferrario Tavern after the name of the man who first operated it. During the excavations for the construction of the building, many archaelogical remains of an ancient Roman theatre came to light, which Paolo Mezzanotte isolated and preserved.
The hall of Stock Exchange, later referred to as the "call floor," was equipped with a modern mechanical display board for showing the prices, while the stockbrokers' workstations were connected by a large number of telephone lines for external communications. The architect also saw to the interior design of the building, including wooden tables and chairs for the stockbrokers, and lamps, coat stands and other furnishings for the offices.
At the time of its inauguration in 1932, the facade of Palazzo Mezzanotte was hemmed in by a group of old houses that were later demolished to make space for an open square, the present-day Piazza degli Affari.
When CONSOB was founded and its Milan branch was located in front of Palazzo Mezzanotte, the square became Italy's true financial centre.
In 1985, the old mechanical display board was replaced by an electronic one and at the end of the following year the building was closed by the Chamber of Commerce for major restoration works. From 1987 to 1994, the Stock Exchange sessions were held in a pre-fabricated building placed at the centre of Piazza degli Affari, usually referred to as the "Big Cage."
The years during which the building was renovated coincided partly with the institutional and operational reform of the securities market.
When the works were completed, the building became the seat of the Stock Exchange Board, the new self-governing body of the markets, which was handed over to the new private management company, Borsa Italiana, in 1998.
The "call floor" also remain unused throughout the 1990s: trading of the share listings had moved over to the electronic platform and only the premiums market continued to trade for some time on the underground floor of Palazzo Mezzanotte.
Soon after Borsa Italiana settled in, new restructuring work began on the spaces located on the ground floor and the underground floor, creating the Piazza Affari Congress & Training Center, a contemporary multi-functional facility at the heart of Milan.

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