In the design world, Italy is not only famous as a repository of classical architecture and art, but also for its current collection of artists and architects who have gained an international reputation in modern design. But for those not specializing in product design, opportunities in Italy are limited. Enter Franco Purini, an Italian architect who is not only known as a practicing professional, but is one of the world's more interesting theorists. Probably because he is based in Italy, where classical architecture is so predominant, Purini has found a way to wed the classical and modern in a theoretical system. Whereas the classical achieves order and avoids chaos, neo-rationalism enables the designer to achieve the same by putting in place a new set of rules. On the other hand, Purini is a firm advocate of the element of surprise, sometimes seen in his architecture as a non-connector, which normally is part of an essential support system.
Along the way, Purini entered numerous competitions, winning a Florence planning competition in 1977 and the Urban Park Competition in Calabria in 2001. Since 1977 he has been the Professor of Architectural Composition and City Planning at the Sapienza University, Rome.
Donald Stastny, FAIA, has a long and distinguished career as a design competition professional adviser, acting as a consultant to the General Services Administration and a number of non-profits. Stastny recently discussed his experiences in design competition management and shared his insight into the process, including the lessons he's learned over the years and how managing design competitions complements his own architecture, planning and urban design. His responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.