Male, born 1914-04-22, died 1990-04-28

Associated with the firms network

Contini, Edgardo, Engineer; Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall (DMJM); Gruen Associates, Architecture / Planning / Engineering; Gruen, Victor, Associates, Architecture / Planning / Engineering; Mitchell / Giurgola Architects; Smith, Jones and Contini, Associated Architects; Urban Innovations Group

Professional History

Partner, Smith, Jones and Contini, Associated Architects, Los Angeles, CA, 1947-1951; Partner, Gruen Associates, Los Angeles, CA, 1951- ;

President, Urban Innovations Group (UIG), University of California, Los Angeles, Graduate School of Architecture, Westwood, Los Angeles, CA, 1979-1984; Urban Innovations was UCLA's design/build group organized by then Architecture Chair Charles W. Moore (1935-1993) in the mid-1970s. According to the Los Angeles Times: "At UIG, Contini participated in the Grand Avenue proposal for the development of California Plaza on Bunker Hill and in the planning of the expansion of the Beverly Hills Civic Center with architect Charles Moore." (See Leon Whiteson, "Edgardo Contini; Architect, Urban Planner," Los Angeles Times, 05/01/1990,Accessed 06/20/2012.) Following his retirement, colleagues created the "Edgardo Contini Lecture at the UCLA School of Architecture and Urban Planning" in his honor. He lectured at UCLA, the USC School of Architecture, Los Angeles, CA, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Santa Monica, CA, and the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA.

Fellow, American Institute of Architects (FAIA), 1990;


B.S., Engineering, University of Rome, Rome, Italy, c. 1935;



Edgardo Contini was born in Ferrara, Italy, and did his university work at the University of Rome. Contini, from a successful Jewish family, served in the Italian Army during the late 1930s but was removed from the military due to increased Italian anti-Semitism after Adolph Hitler's 05/1958 state visit to Rome. (Hitler first visited Mussolini in Venice, Italy in 1934, and relations between the two countries drew closer by the 1938 Italian excursion. Two months after Hitler's visit, and consultation with Germany's National Socialist Office of Racial Politics, the Italian Fascist government passed the "Manifesto della razza," the Manifesto of Race, pronouncing that the "Jews do not belong to the Italian Race," and, as a result, could not marry Italians. Other discriminatory measures limiting jobs, educational opportunities, property ownership and freedom of travel, followed.) (See "Manifesto of Race,"Accessed 06/20/2012.) As a result, Contini migrated to the US in 1939; he received his passport on 06/10/1939 in Naples, Italy, and boarded the S.S. Rex on 06/21/1939, bound for New York, NY. He spent some time in MI during 1943, where he was naturalized. He served with the US Army Corps of Engineers in the European theatre during the war, where his language skills were of great value. Following World War II, he worked with various firms in Los Angeles, CA. He and another European Jewish immigrant, Victor Gruen (1903-1980) founded the important architecture and planning firm, Gruen Associates in 1951; during the 1950s-1960s, Gruen Associates became highly influential in retail architecture, particularly in the design of suburban shopping malls and downtown urban renewal planning. He died of cancer at this residence in West Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA.


His mother's maiden name was Malvano.


Contini married twice, the first time to Beatrice Contini (1915-2000), in 1942. He divorced Beatrice, in 04/1974. He married Phyllis Shapiro (born 1924) in Los Angeles, CA, on 02/14/1975.


With Beatrice, he had three children: John Bruno, Nora Ann and Barbara Joan Contini.

Biographical Notes

Contini visited the US in 1934 with a group of students; they sailed from Naples, Italy on the S.S. Saturnia on 09/08/1934, arriving about a week later. This group may have been a tour from the University of Rome, as all of the students had come from Rome. Contini was naturalized in the US District Court, Detroit, MI, on 11/17/1943. He traveled a great deal over the years. He flew aboard a Pan Am airplane to the Hawaiian Islands en route to Japan on 03/19/1956. Later that year, on 10/05/1956, he traveled aboard Air France from New York to Paris, France, with Beatrice. SSN: 380-12-2956.

Associated Locations

  • Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna Italy (Architect's Birth)
    Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna Italy

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  • Los Angeles, CA (Architect's Death)
    Los Angeles, CA

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PCAD id: 453