Pietro Cicognani was born in Bologna, Italy, and grew up in Rome. He studied at Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, the School of Visual Arts and Columbia University, where he now teaches. He founded his NYC architectural firm in 1985 with Ann Kalla (1956-2009).
His best friend, Isabella Rossellini, says this of him:
” Pietro’s curiosity pushes him to acquire vast troves of information, which he uses as the source of his many architectural solutions and creativity. His artistry is cultivated, refined, and full of cultural references, but it also has the same irreverence and joyfulness as his laughter. “
It is clear that this architect LOVES what he does.
Cicognani embraces the unique set of circumstances that each project presents, resulting in a body of works that are unique to each client rather than his own signature look that gets modified repeatedly.
Pietro Cicognani Architecture and Design is a book to enjoy slowly and thoroughly. Each beautifully photographed project (photography by Francesco Lagnese) is likely to stop readers in their tracks to take notice of the accompanying details, floorpans, drawings and backstories. In no way are these homes ordinary; they are homes of the super wealthy A-listers that show what the trust in the right architect, great taste and money can buy. His houses often include clever design elements just for the kids.
Cicognani’s body of work includes private houses, apartments, townhouses, commercial and institutional projects, both domestic and international. Locations include country, barns, city, seaside (think upper end Hamptons) – often with interesting landscape elements that are brilliantly worked into the design of the home. Let’s take a look at a few of his projects:
Fifth Avenue Duplex
This Cicognani Kalla project combined one and a half apartments on two floors. The details are many, which include hidden storage, elliptical plaster columns with oil rubbed bronze trim, Harmon hinges on a steel framed glass sliding door that leads to an enormous kitchen, which opens to the dining room. Planning for everything, he included a solar shade that, at the press of a button, drops down from the kitchen ceiling to shield the pots and pans from sight when the family entertains.
Cicognani’s stairwells throughout this book are spectacular. Made of stone, steel and plaster, the above pictured stairwell was added in the double-height cherry wood hall to access the upstairs library, study, bedrooms, and an east facing den.
Villa Zabete is the home of the founder of SoHo fashion boutique Kirna Zabete. Less than 3 hours from NYC in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, this region (on the Brandywine River) was made famous by the Wyeth family.
The painted stucco house was designed to evoke a Mediterranean feeling. Cicognani created a magnificent extrance drive that leads to a walled forecourt, with elements that dramatically work with the slope of the land, incorporating outdoor space in creative ways, such as a walled secret garden with “windows” cut into the walls to frame countryside views
In the double height living room, Cicognani designed an interior oculus near the ceiling, through which the four children can spy on the adult activities below.
La Granja (barn project)
Whoever came up with the southern saying about being raised in a barn clearly was not referring to Cicognani’s barn projects. One could be so lucky to live in one of his barn conversions- the are absolutely incredible. La Granja, pictured above, is a 1860’s bank barn in Pennsyvania on the land that the du Ponts once used for beagling. It is now the home of a local real estate developer and his family.
A bank barn is a barn that is built into a hill’s slope, with two levels on the uphill side. Cicognani gutted this barn down to the original fieldstone walls and created a modern three story home with a double height foyer, three bedroom suites on the lower level that open to the original walled garden for the children, a deck across the length of the second floor. Sparing no detail, luxurious modern ameneties mix with reclaimed wood and even a reclaimed tile floor from the owner’s great grandmother’s home in the Dominican Republic. Above, we see the coolest mudroom ever. Cicognani designed a steel-framed glass partition and door, and floor to ceiling wood cabinets, and mid-century pressed-glass globes to add a contemporary note.
Clearly Cicognani loves what he does, as these exquisite homes are highly customized and most definitely one of a kind. If you like what you have seen here, Pietro Cicognani Architecture and Design promises to amaze with every turn of the page through about twenty notable projects. Order your copy here.
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