Confluence Institute hosted a series of online lectures during the first lockdown of 2020. Here is the link to the event that took place on Wednesday May 17th, 2020.
Antoine Picon is the G. Ware Travelstead Professor of the History of Architecture and Technology at the GSD. He teaches courses in the history and theory of architecture and technology. Trained as an engineer, architect, and historian, Picon works on the history of architectural and urban technologies from the eighteenth century to the present. His French Architects and Engineers in the Age of Enlightenment (1988; English translation, 1992) is a synthetic study of the disciplinary “deep structures” of architecture, garden design, and engineering in the eighteenth century, and their transformations as new issues of territorial management and infrastructure-systems planning were confronted. Whereas Claude Perrault (1613-1688) ou la Curiosité d’un classique (1988) traces the origin of these changes at the end of the seventeenth century, L’Invention de l’Ingénieur Moderne, L’Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées 1747-1851 (1992) envisages their full development from the mid-eighteenth century to the 1850s. Picon has also worked on the relations between society, technology and utopia. This is in particular the theme of Les Saint-Simoniens: Raison, Imaginaire, et Utopie (2002), a detailed study of the Saint-Simonian movement that played a seminal role in the emergence of industrial modernity. Picon’s most recent books offer a comprehensive overview of the changes brought by the computer and digital culture to the theory and practice of architecture as well as to the planning and experience of the city. He has published in particular Digital Culture in Architecture: An Introduction for the Design Profession (2010), Ornament: The Politics of Architecture and Subjectivity (2013), Smart Cities: Théorie et Critique d’un Idéal Autoréalisateur (2013), and Smart Cities: A Spatialised Intelligence (2015).
Picon has received a number of awards for his writings, including the Médaille de la Ville de Paris and twice the Prix du Livre d’Architecture de la Ville de Briey, a well as the Georges Sarton Medal of the University of Gand. In 2010, he was elected a member of the French Académie des Technologies. He is Chevalier des Arts et Lettres since 2014. He is also Chairman of the Fondation Le Corbusier.
Picon received science and engineering degrees from the Ecole Polytechnique and from the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, an architecture degree from the Ecole d’Architecture de Paris-Villemin, and a PhD in history from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.