CONCRETE enabled the ancient Romans to erect structures that surpassed in grandiosity even the marble temples of Greece and the brick palaces of Babylon. Today in Italy—and in most of Europe, where steel is scarce and expensive—concrete remains one of the cheapest and best available building materials. The Italian who, above all others, has mastered concrete and raised it to a level where it can compete with marble and granite is not an architect (though he holds honorary degrees as such) but an engineer. He is restless, wrinkled, grey Pier Luigi Nervi, 66,...

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