Born in Bologna, Italy, Pietro Cicognani was interested in the built form from a very early age. Cicognani studied at the
École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts and a Master of Architecture from Columbia University. After graduation, he worked for Mitchell/Giurgola Architects in New York on several large-scale projects, including the new Parliament House in Australia, and eventually relocating to Canberra, Australia, to continue working. Upon returning to New York to found Cicognani Kalla Architect in 1985, Cicognani also began teaching in the design studio at Columbia University.