Altered and forgotten, but not gone.
Palazzo Capra is the first of Andrea Palladio’s designs I have come across to be included in Book II of his Four Books on Architecture and seemingly ignored everywhere else: Ottavio Bertotti Scamozzi left it out of his otherwise comprehensive book, The Buildings and Designs of Andrea Palladio, and there’s no Wikipedia entry for it, either. However, the website, www.VisitPalladio.com, does give a few clues as to why that might be. Palladio is believed to have designed Palazzo Capra in the early 1540’s and construction was completed in 1567, three years before the Four Books were published. However, in 1658, the Piovini family acquired the property and began renovations that resulted in extensive alterations of both the interiors and exterior façades. No longer recognizable as Palladio’s design, Bertotti Scamozzi may have chosen not to include drawings for Palazzo Capra in his book, as he, too, in 1776, had very little to go on to recreate an as-built version of the original.
In Palladio’s plan, the main façade looked out onto what is now the Corso Andrea Palladio – and Palazzo Thiene Bonin Longare directly across the street. The site being deep and narrow, the longest façade was parallel to the Piazza Castello.
After architect Antonio Pizzocaro’s redesign for the Piovinis, this elevation has become the focal point and most photographed portion of the building. Because Palladio did not provide an elevation drawing of this façade, it is unknown if any of his original elements remain.
Today, the palazzo enjoys modern life as home to Coin, a major Italian department store chain.
It is, in a way, unfortunate that Palazzo Capra no longer resembles Palladio’s intention, as he had high expectations for this building:
Its shape will be beautiful and varied, and this gentleman will certainly have a house which will be much praised and magnificent, as his noble character deserves.
Although not Palladian, the building does retain Classical features which, whether in fashion or architecture, never go out of style.