(b. ca. 1400, Firenze, d. 1469, Roma)

Interior view

Ospedale Maggiore, Milan

In 1451 Filarete accepted an invitation from Duke Francesco Sforza to move to Milan, where he started a new career as architect and architectural theorist. He stayed in Milan until 1465, his most important work there being the Ospedale Maggiore, commissioned by Sforza in 1456 with the object of uniting the city's many small hospitals into a single complex. After recurrent difficulties with the hospital management, local building workers and perhaps also with Sforza himself, Filarete resigned his post as building superintendent in 1465, when only a small part of the project had been completed. His successors, Guiniforte Solari (1429-81) and later Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, continued the construction but with a partial change of design. Further alterations in the 17th and 18th centuries mean that the only parts of the present building built to Filarete's design are the south cross-shaped hall with its four courts and accompanying façades.

However, in his Trattato, Filarete gave detailed information about his project. His planned layout was completely axio-symmetrical: two large, cruciform halls, each embraced by four small courts, would have flanked a central court, with a church in the middle. The cruciform halls were to contain the beds, located according to the patients' illness and sex, all with a direct view of the altar, which was to stand under the domed crossing of the four arms.

The photo shows the central courtyard (Cortile della Speziera).

View the ground plan of Ospedale Maggiore, Milan.