is a principal architect and urban planner of the 20th century.
Many of his projects influenced his contemporary architects
and informed what they considered to be modern architecture.
Or, “Many of his projects influenced his contemporary
architects and informed what they considered to be modern
A discreet man, Tony Garnier dedicated most of his life to
his passion for architecture. But who was he ?
His life was like his works - exemplary.
Tony Garnier was born on 13 August 1869 in Lyon, in a district
called “La Croix-Rousse”. He was the son of a
“canut”, the local name given to workers in the
silk industry. His father, Pierre Garnier, was a silk designer.
His mother, Anne Evrard was a weaver. From a very young age
he was confronted with the harsh living conditions of silk
workers. Through his passion for architecture, he sought to
find a solution to the problem of social housing. Inventing
a new way of thinking about housing became one of his major
From his childhood, Tony Garnier's ambition was to become
an architect. His strong motivation explains his success,
at a time when most young architects were following in their
Tony Garnier started studying at “La Martinière
aux Terreaux” (1883-1886) before going to Lyon School
of Fine Arts (1883-1886). In 1889, he left for Paris, where
he participated six times for the “Grand Prix the Rome”.
In 1899, he finally won, and this allowed him to become a
resident at “Villa Médicis” in Rome for
four years, where he studied antique monuments.
As part of his training in Rome, Tony Garnier not only discovered
Roman heritage, but also visited Greece and the Middle East.
During this period, he became good friends with Bouchard,
Very soon, Tony Garnier proved to be very different from other
students. He was not very disciplined, and did not carry out
the projects requested by the French Academy, which concerned
the study of isolated antique monuments. He prefered to work
on an entire city “Tusculum”. In four years at
“Villa Médicis”, he spent only six months
working on antique monuments. Most of his time was dedicated
to a project for the creation of a new city, a modern one,
called An Industrial City. published for the first time in 1917.
Very attached to his roots, Tony Garnier decided, at the end
of his Roman journey, to come back to his home town: Lyon.
He secured his first project from the Major of Lyon, Victor
Augagneur, to build the Municipal dairy located in the park “La
Tête d'Or”. The Major was very satisfied with
the architect's work, and recommended him to his sucessor,
The began a long and fruitful collaboration
between them. Edouard Herriot commissioned Tony Garnier to
execute most of the “Great Works” of the city:
of La Mouche and cattle market (1908-1928), Hospital
of Grange-Blanche (1911-1933), Municipal
Stadium of Gerland (1913-1926) and Social
Housing area "Les Etats-Unis" (1919-1933). They will all
be published in 1920.
On 20 July 1915, at the age of 46, he married Catherine Laville,
21. They settled in a villa he built at Saint-Rambert.
1930 and 1933, he executed the last one of his great construction
works: Boulogne - Billancourt Municipality
After having trained a generation of architects in Lyon, Tony
Garnier retired in 1938, at Carnoux, La Bédoule, nearby
Cassis, in the South of France. He dedicated this period of
his life to his first love: drawing. Reading his personal
diary, for the period 1940–1943, confirms that he had
a very abundant production of sketches and drawings, one per
day in average.
He died on 19 January 1948, without descendants. His body
was repatriated to Lyon on November 1949, and is buried in
the cimetery of “La Croix-Rousse”. In his praise,
Edouard Herriot saied:
“This builder, this realistic person, was spontaneously
human. His sensitivity was only equal to his modesty. His
culture proved to be often surprising. Indeed, Tony Garnier
was a master, with all the nobleness and intelligence included
in this word. A master, which means a guide and an example…
But the Man was as admirable as the scholar; his moral qualities
were equal to his genius.”