Ernesto Pirovano was born in Milan on 30 March 1866. His father was a cabinet-maker and a wood sculptor who later in life began working with artistic cement.
Ernesto, like his father, attended Accademia di Brera, the Brera Art Institute, taking courses in ornamental design and architecture. From the very beginning, he was praised for his extraordinary drawing talents. These talents helped him during his apprenticeship with Angelo Colla, who introduced him to restoration works.
In fact, it was Colla who introduced him to the Crespi family, and in 1890 Pirovano began working in the company town. Pirovano worked on Colla’s projects, as Colla was the first architect involved in creating the factory in Crespi d’Adda.
Two other individuals hired by Cristoforo and Silvio Crespi, Pietro Brunati and Gaetano Moretti, were also heavily involved in designing the production facility and town. In many cases, it is hard to distinguish where one person’s work ended and someone else’s began. However, it is likely that Pirovano was in charge of the land use plan and the architectural elements, while Brunati was in charge of the more structural and engineering elements. Moretti was chiefly involved in the cemetery and the Taccani power station in Trezzo sull’Adda.
Pirovano also worked on the school building, which was already built to the second floor. He completed the construction by endowing it with compositional unity and making it a sort of secular temple, with a Gothic gable and central triple lancet window at the top (which can no longer be seen).
The houses of the priest and the doctor are, without a doubt, Pirovano’s work. These structures complete and refine the simplicity of the workers’ homes. The ornamentation, frames, arched windows and string courses highlight the characteristics of the Lombardy Gothic movement, a style that borrowed certain aspects from the Middle Ages and reinterpreted them from a modern perspective.
Pirovano was also involved in designing certain ornamental elements of the factory, creating the dyeing department and the warehouses, refurbishing the façade of Angelo Colla’s first production facility, and particularly, in designing the office buildings at the entrance to the factories. The office buildings express a sense of the refinement and the magnificence that make the factory a temple to labour. They are characterised by modern arched, double lancet windows with fretwork lunettes and balusters. The chimney stack is decorated at the top in order to add aesthetically pleasing elements to what is essentially an industrial construction.
The cottages for department heads, built between 1921 and 1925, were also created by Pirovano. However, the architect’s imagination truly shines through in the executive’s villas built a few years later. The expressive richness, the variation in the floor plans, the creativity of the architecture, all seem to evoke an atmosphere of a romantic holiday home and make this part of the town seem to exist outside of time.
While he was working with the Crespi family, Pirovano also had projects in other cities throughout Lombardy. His work won several competitions, which allowed him to put together a team of specialists who worked with him through all phases of a project, both in terms of construction and ornamentation.
In 1906, he took part in the Sempione International Exhibition where he presented his projects for the Bergamo Cemetery and the Mantua Cemetery.
He also designed a few houses in Milan, such as Casa Ferrario in Via Spadari (1902-1904) and Casa Tensi in Via Vivaio (1907-1909).
Pirovano was an architect who worked in refurbishing, private construction, as well as funereal architecture, and his creations demonstrate his astonishing ability to blend multiple styles and solutions in an eclectic manner.
Pirovano died on 29 December 1934 in Milan.