The Santa Maria degli Angeli complex and LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura cultural centre
Construction of the new LAC cultural centre next to the former Grand Hotel Palace, the Church and former Convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli has redrawn the extensive lakeside area that lies on the southern access to the City of Lugano. The resulting complex stands on the site at the edge of the medieval nucleus of the town where, at the end of the fifteenth century, the Observant Franciscans of Milan had installed themselves. Following the foundation of the convent in 1490, the first stone of the church was laid in 1499 and in 1515 the completed construction was consecrated. A feature of the church is the division wall frescoed in 1529 with the Stories of the Passion of Christ, a masterpiece from the mature phase of Bernardino Luini. In 1848 the convent was suppressed and appropriated by the Swiss State and the monks obliged to leave. The convent was bought up by Giacomo Ciani while the church remained the property of Canton Ticino. In 1855 the Hôtel du Parc was created incorporating part of the ancient convent and was to play an important role in encouraging international tourists to the city. Enlarged and remodernized in 1903, it was transformed into the Grand Hotel Palace and remained the largest and most luxurious hotel in the region until its closure in 1969. Following decades of neglect, in 1994 the set of buildings was purchased by the City of Lugano and, in 2000, an architectural competition was launched for its transformation. With its theatre and museum, the LAC, the city’s new cultural centre, has reinfused this area of the city with the dynamism with which it catalyzed the city in the past.