The National Academy of Saint Luca has its current seat in a palace once belonging to the Carpegna family, near the fountain of Trevi. The building owes its fame and its good fortune to the work of Francesco Borromini who transformed the 16th century Palazzo into what it is today. First under Ambrigio’s commission, and then under the cardinal Ulderico Carpegna, Borromini modified the edifice that had already been enlarged and redefined in the early 1600s by Pietro Eschinardi. With the death of Ulderico, Prince of Scavolino, the direct line of the Carpegna is interrupted and the marquee Emilio Orsini de’ Cavalieri Senesi inherits the palace. Between 1732 and 1736, Orsini assigns the completion of the building and its structural modifications to the architect Francesco Ferrari. After belonging first to the Patrizi Naro family and then to the Colligola Monthioni, in the second half of the 1800s to 1882 the palace is inhabited by the family of Luigi Pianciani, first mayor of Rome after Italy’s unification.
The changes made over the course of the XVIII and XIX centuries transform the building into a rentable palace, later a convent, than an office building. Nevertheless, Borromini’s intervention is still visible in the portico on the ground floor which opens onto via della Stamperia and the Fountain of Trevi and in the helicoidal ramp that connects the ground floor to the first and the second. To get to the ramp it is necessary to pass a portal, richly decorated with stuccos and located on the axis of the central entrance. The functional framework the building has today is due to the radical intervention made between 1933 and 1934 under the direction of Gustavo Giovannoni and Arnaldo Foschini, with the purpose of transforming the palace into an adequate seat for the Academy.
In the new building, inaugurated in the 24th of April 1934, the first floor is dedicated to art and architecture exhibitions; some rooms are dedicated to the storage of the Academy’s collections, drawings, and books. The portico leads to an indoor courtyard, and, through the helicoidal ramp decorated with Borromini’s portal, to the upper floors, which can also be reached by a large internal staircase, created in the early 1900s. The President’s office, the offices of the Academic Secretariat, the Conference and Council rooms are all on the first floor. The Biblioteca Romana Sarti (library), the Historical Archives and the administrative offices are on the second floor. On the third and floor there is he gallery with the storage room where are held paintings not being exhibited.