EXCELSIOR GALLIA HOTEL, MILAN, ITALY
STUDIO MARCO PIVA
The Excelsior Hotel Gallia, built in 1932, covers
an entire block on Milan’s Piazza Duca D’Aosta.
Milanese architect Marco Piva’s extensive redesign
and refurbishment added modern details to the
historical building while emphasising its monumental
aspects, and a new wing that ‘recalls the dynamism of
the capital of design and fashion’.
In the process, Piva has created a variety of interior
spaces and environments linked by a system of
portals, characterised by black glass, metal and light,
including a 100m-long internal ‘promenade’ lined
with small boutique windows displaying luxury
goods. It connects the historical wing’s common
spaces with the new building’s Grand Hall, which is
used for meetings and conferences.
Piva has made wide use of highly reflective materials
such as brown antique marble as well as glass and
ethereal, luminous steel. Intimate venues, such as the
Cigar Room and Library, were designed as private
clubs, using material such as thick, chamfered,
reflecting and silk-screen printed glass.
Below: Marco Piva’s drawings
show that lighting was an
Right and overleaf: throughout
the hotel Piva has used a broad
palette of luminaires and
techniques, from customised
feature chandeliers such as Light
Fall through to more discreet
integrated linear lighting
The hotel’s eight-storey central staircase was
preserved and renovated to include a 30m-high
Murano glass chandelier, ‘Light Fall’ comprising a
cascade of 180 light cylinders. A back-illuminated
quartz lift carries guests to a terrace bar and a
huge crystal room under the building’s central cupola.
There is also a spa and swimming pool on the sixth
and seventh floors.
The spa complex covers almost 1000sqm and has
a grey marble caldarium with natural lighting.
There are also four treatment cabins and ‘an
intimate refuge including steam bath, whirlpool,
sweet sauna, emotional showers and ice falls.’ The
seventh floor houses saunas, a Himalayan salt
steam room, hammam, a gym and the hanging
swimming pool, conceived as a cave and waterfall.
With more than a nod to Milan’s design status, the
hotel’s 235 guest rooms include a suite on each floor
themed after local heroes Vico Magistretti, Achille
Castiglioni, Giò Ponti, Luigi Caccia Dominioni
and Franco Albini, including their light fixtures.