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John Felice Rome Center University Campus

An Extension in Praise of Consistency and Restraint

Ignazio Lo Manto

The John Felice Rome Center is the university campus in Rome of Chicago’s Loyola University, one of the most important Jesuit colleges in the US.

Founded in 1962 and located since 1978 on the top of Rome’s Mount Balduina in the northwest of the city, the Center is housed in a well-organized complex of buildings designed by Ignazio Breccia Fratadocchi, engineer, and includes a student dormitory, office, library and canteen. The property was purchased in 2009 by Loyola University, which undertook a general renovation and refurbishment program, subsequently deciding to extend the Center by adding a new student dormitory, chapel and entrance hall, and landscaping the grounds.

A long time getting underway, the extension program designed by young Sicilian architect Ignazio Lo Manto was finally started in 2019 and completed in less than 18 months.

The new architectural complex shows great sensitivity to its context, seeking a direct dialogue with the surrounding buildings and site.

The new buildings fit confidently into the existing context, neither concealing nor declaiming their presence. Although clearly a new addition to the whole, they signal a gentle transition from old to new through a series of similarities and differences.

The enclosure created by the existing and new buildings echoes a feature of the wider urban context, and in so doing, completes the overall urban design. The spatial entity created is not so much the result of a series of individual standalone objects as of their mutual interaction.

Indeed, the simple, highly iconic architectural design of the John Felice Rome Center highlights the whole spatial setting, inviting the visitor to move around the grounds exploring the buildings from different angles and perspectives. The program is geared to encouraging the search for the best possible perspective and an appreciation of the constantly changing interactions of the whole with...

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