Gaetana Aulenti (1927-2012) was an Italian architect who dedicated herself to recovering the architectural values of the past. For almost ten years she worked in the editorial office of Casabella under the direction of Ernesto Nathan Rogers. His works include numerous renovations and rehabilitations of buildings of historical value.
In 1953 she finished her degree in architecture at the Politecnico di Milano. In the fifties Italian architecture was devoted to research into the historical and cultural recovery of the architectural values of the past and the existing built environment. From her pages in the magazine Casabella she proposed the Neoliberty as an alternative to the rationalism prevailing in the architectural conventions of the moment.
After obtaining her doctorate, she taught at the School of Architecture in Venice from 1960 to 1962 and at the School of Architecture in Milan from 1964 to 1967.
As many of her contemporaries, Aulenti designed several furniture series throughout the 1960s for the La Rinascente store and later designed furniture for Zanotta, where she created two of her best-known pieces, Abril, a stainless steel folding chair with a removable lid, and the Sanmarco table built from glass plates.
In 1981 she was chosen to renovate the 1900 Beaux Arts Gare d'Orsay train station, a spectacular landmark originally designed by Victor Laloux, in the Musée d'Orsay. Her work at the Musée d'Orsay led to the creation of a space for the National Museum of Modern Art at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the restoration of Palazzo Grassi as an art museum in Venice (1985); the conversion of a former Italian embassy in Berlin into an Academy of Sciences and the restoration of a 1929 exhibition hall in Barcelona as the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (1985). In San Francisco, she converted the city's Central Library into an Asian art museum. In 2008 she carried out the restoration of the Palazzo Branciforte in Palermo.
In 2012, Gae Aulenti received the Gold Medal of the Triennale di Milano for her artistic career in recognition of her position as one of the masters of Italian design.