Luciano Patetta

Professor emeritus of Politecnico di Milano


  • Year of nomination: 2010
  • Facility: Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering
  • E-mail:

"Born in Milan in 1935, he graduated in Architecture from Politecnico di Milano and continuously taught History of Architecture there from 1971, becoming Full Professor in 1987.

Since 1968 his scientific production has always been characterised by originality, methodological rigour, precision and clarity of thought. He engaged in a variety of research topics, offering key critical contributions on the history of Milan - and in particular on Renaissance, Neoclassical and twentieth-century architecture. His studies on fifteenth-century Milanese and Lombard architectural culture and production, published in the 1980s, enabled the international scientific community to review judgements, problems and approaches to study, overcoming outdated interpretations and paths of research.

His interest in Renaissance culture led him on several occasions to reinterpret classic texts and review the architecture of buildings and cities through graphic investigation, redesign and structural and material analysis. He has always taken advantage of all the tools the culture of Politecnico di Milano placed at his disposal  to analyse, understand and above all restore, explain and communicate the history of the city's architecture.

His studies and publications on the architecture of Eclecticism in Europe and globally (19th-20th century) were also pioneering. Since the 1970s he has made innovative contributions to complex problems and forms of expression often burdened by stylistic or formal preconceptions. He has highlighted how the languages of modernity and those of the past have contributed to generating nowadays' city, studying not only architectural production but also cultural debates, circulation through various means of communication and the continual exchange of ideas between arts, crafts and industry.

During his studies and research, he has continued to create large-scale and wide-ranging projects, establishing relationships with other universities and with prestigious Italian and foreign cultural institutes, thus helping to support and expand Politecnico di Milano’s network of relationships within the international scientific community.

Throughout his career, he has succeeded in completely integrating study, teaching, supervising degree and doctoral theses, curating academic conventions, conferences, educational seminars, shows and exhibitions, as well as editing journals. His vocation for passing down knowledge and his attention to a high standard of quality in the timings and manner of teaching were interwoven with his articulate paths of research, in total compliance with the quantity of teaching demanded by the University.

In the 1960s he founded, together with Paolo Portoghesi, the periodical Controspazio, a major journal of architectural culture. In 1990 he founded the biannual journal Il disegno di architettura (which he still edits), which can be found in all major Italian and foreign librariesand which promotes and shares high-level scientific research.

Since 1997, he has been curator at the Colocci Foundation in Jesi of the annual 'Conferences on the Architecture of Eclecticism', which have become fully-fledgedcultural and scientific events, as well as a point of reference for international studies.

He has been regularly invited to give talks and lectures at universities and cultural institutes in Europe, America and Asia. Since 1989 he has brought together the results of his research on the Renaissance at the 'Humanistic Conferences of the Francesco Petrarca Institute' in Pienza, Montepulciano and Chianciano.

He was a member of the National Council for Cultural Heritage from 1982 to 1989 and was Vice-President at the same Ministry of the Commission for the Protection of Historical Sources of Architecture in Italian Cities.

He has published dozens of essays in specialised journals, books and conference proceedings."

[extract from the 2010 nomination statement]