Pier Luigi Cervellati was born in 1936, graduated as an architect from the University of Florence in 1961 and worked as an assistant from 1963 until 1965. Between 1965 and 1968 he worked as an assistant at the School of Architecture in Venice which is well known for its research, and since 1972 he has been responsible for education in town planning at the University of Bologna. In 1982 he was appointed professor.
Professor Cervellati received attention in the first place for the restoration of the historic heart of Bologna in the 1970s; as a city adviser from 1964 he had principal responsibility for the work. It was an operation of town renewal with the aim of preserving its historical and social continuity. The basis for the work lay in a thorough analysis of house deisgns and the types of building found there, which gave a starting point for the restoration of damaged or ruined buildings. The center of the city and its population were treated as a unity whose conditions should be improved with due respect for local circumstances. The methodology of his work gave rise to great interest and was studied in connection with the European Architectural Heritage Year in 1975, and was influential among Swedish architects.