Professor Jean-Louis Cohen is the inaugural Penelope Visiting Professor in Architectural History at the University of Sydney.

Cohen is an architect and historian and an authority on the history of architecture and urbanism since the nineteenth century. Jean-Louis Cohen studied architecture at the École Spéciale d’Architecture and at the Unité Pédagogique no. 6 in Paris, and received his doctorate at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in 1985. After directing the Architectural Research Program at the French Ministry of Infrastructure (1979-83), he held a research chair at the Paris-Villemin School of Architecture (1983-96), then the Chair in the History of Town Planning at the Institut français d’urbanisme at the University of Paris 8 (1996-2005). In 1994, he was appointed Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. From 1997 to 2003, he was engaged by the French Ministry of Culture to create the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine at the Palais de Chaillot, where he directed the Institut français d’architecture and the Musée des Monuments français.

His research has focused on architecture and urban planning in twentieth-century France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States; patterns of internationalization and regional cultures; the modernization of urban form in Paris; and city planning in colonial Algeria and Morocco. Jean-Louis has been a curator for numerous exhibitions including The Lost Vanguard at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2007) and Scenes of the World to Come and Architecture in Uniform at the Canadian Center for Architecture (1995 and 2011). He was in charge of architecture for Paris-Moscou (1979) and scientific advisor for L’Aventure Le Corbusier (1987), both at the Georges Pompidou Center. In 2014, he curated the French pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Together with Pippo Ciorra, he curated Zevi’s Architects at MAXXI (Rome) in 2018.

Cohen is author of more than forty books published in several languages. Among his recent titles are Building a New World: Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture (2021), France (2015), Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes (2013); Interférences / Interferenzen: architecture, Allemagne, France 1800-2000 (2013, with Hartmut Frank); The Future of Architecture. Since 1889 (2012); and Architecture in Uniform; Designing and Building for WWII (2011). His Scenes of the World to Come; European Architecture and the American Challenge 1893-1960 (1995) received the Grand Prix du livre of the Académie d’architecture. In 2020 he published the first of the eight volumes of the complete works of Frank O. Gehry. His new title Frank Gehry: The Masterpieces is forthcoming later this year.

He is a Chevalier des Arts & Lettres, and a member of both the Accademia di San Luca and the Russian Academy of Architecture.

See Prof. Cohen’s profile at the Institute for Fine Arts here.

See Prof. Cohen’s profile at the Collège de France here

Image of Jean-Louis Cohen
Jean-Louis Cohen


Prof. Cohen’s research program will explore the historical material of architectural design in urban settings, pursuing a program of research launched in 2021 at the Collège de France (“Architecture and Inter-urbanity”) into the relationships that place a contemporary city like Sydney into conversation with its multiform pasts, and with sites and experiments both subtle and obvious. The project looks into the ways in which history operates within architectural design—how fragments are folded into new proposals, how references, quotations and homages figure in work old and new, and how this adds up to an idea of the city as an accumulation of exchanges mediated by architecture, through history. The project considers how this practice, within architecture, forms history on its own terms, and works through the tensions between this and other modes of apprehending the past. 

Lectures on Interurbanity

Prof. Cohen delivered a series of lectures in the Parisian spring of 2021 on the theme of interurbanity. These have been recorded and published by the Collège de France, and may be viewed here.


Prof. Cohen will deliver a public lecture in Sydney in September 2022. Preliminary events and online content will be advised as they are ready to share.

Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Rotonda de la Villette, Paris, 1788

Le Corbusier, Palace of the Soviets (proposal), Moscow, 1930