The origin of the collections goes back to the 18th century, with the donations by Jean-Rodolphe Perronet, first director of the School, by Pierre-Charles Lesage, director of studies, and by Gaspard Riche de Prony. They also contain scientific and technical books from the 16th-18th centuries, some seized during the revolutionary period and others from miscellaneous donations.
This collection contains more than 40,000 printed titles published between 1490 and 1968, including some 2500 in English, 2500 in German and 1100 in Italian.
Essentially dedicated to the sciences of engineering and construction, this collection nevertheless covers numerous other fields such as architecture, political economy, astronomy, natural sciences, mathematics, geometry…
A few examples show the diversity of the fields covered:
- Voyage autour du monde by La Pérouse
- De Architectura By Vitruvius (1524 edition)
- Works by Montesquieu, Descartes, Euclid, Fénelon, Rousseau, etc.
Composed from works by 18th-century engineers, the manuscript collection contains around 4000 items.
From the Act of Concession of the Briare canal signed personally by Louis XIII in 1638, to development work on the Port of Bordeaux in 1924, it is a very rich collection, particularly on hydraulic engineering, on applications to navigation within France (canal building) and abroad (Holland in the 18th century, Italy in the early 19th and United States in the mid-19th).
It also contains numerous documents on the building of stone bridges, iron bridges, and railroads, and on attempts to increase the density of communication routes.
Finally, the quality of the manuscript collection is also founded on work produced by students for the entrance examination to the School, as well as completed and uncompleted architectural projects and 19th-century mission reports.
The periodicals collection contains almost 500 titles, including the Annales des ponts et chaussées.
Certain periodicals in the library begin in the 18th or 19th centuries, and continue to publish to this day. 271 historical periodical titles are in French, 98 in English, and 43 in German.
Together, they give a picture of scientific and technical developments over the centuries in Europe and around the world.
From the Mercure français (1605) to Zement (1942), these documents are of inestimable value.
There are more than 3500 drawings for the period 1770 to 1820, covering the following themes: architecture (civil, hydraulic, military, religious), maps and plans, construction, machines, bridges, ports, and roads.
These remarkable drawings keep track of competitions entered by students
- several projects for the Passerelle des Arts in Paris (1813),
- Sganzin’s Fort Napoléon in Boulogne (1804),
- Jean-Rodolphe Perronet‘s Pont de Neuilly,
- Antoine Rémi Polonceau’s Pont du Carroussel (1830),
- Gaspard Riche de Prony’s swing bridge,
- Louis Vicat’s drawing of the earthworks for the 1807 competition,
- the Plan for Route de Lille by Péronne and Arras ...
This collection, exceptional both for its richness and for the diversity of its content, brings together the best drawings produced for engineering competitions in the 18th century.
At the time, there were some fifteen competitions relating to architecture, bridges, roads, locks, fortifications, mapmaking, surveying, ports.
There is also a collection of old printed maps, often enhanced with watercolors, of almost 1500 places, from the 18th century Plan des 3 chemins de Paris in Versailles and the Plaine de Grenelle to the maps of Charles-Joseph Minard (1781-1870).