He studied engineering at the Technische Hochschule, Vienna.
Between 1916-22, he was a student of art history, in Zurich, Berlin, and Munich, under Heinrich Wolfflin.
In 1923, he met Walter Gropius at the Bauhaus, Dessau, and, in 1925, Le Corbusier in Paris. Between 1928-56, he was general secretary of CIAM (Congres Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne), of which he was a founder.
He published books Bauen in Frankreich, Eisen, Eisenbeton (Building in France, Iron and Reinforced Concrete) (1928) and Befreites Wohnen (1929).
In 1931 (with Werner M. Moser and Rudolf Graber), founded the Wohnbedarf department store in Zurich, specializing in home furnishings.
In 1932, he designed bronzeware in the BAG factory, Turgi (Switzerland), a firm that he helped to reorganize. He developed its indi lamp series with Hin Bredendieck. He created the tubular-steel furniture factory of Embru, Ruti (Switzerland). Between 1934-35, he was head of the technical division of the Wohnbedarf department store.
In 1938, Giedion delivered a paper in the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, Harvard University. From the early 1940s, he published books in English, beginning with Space, Time and Architecture (1941). Under the tutelage of Heinrich Wolfflin, he developed a theory of ‘anonymous’ history in his writings, best revealed in his speculative book Mechanization Takes Command (1948). Other books followed, including Walter Gropius’s Work and Teamwork (1954), Architecture You and Me (1956), The Eternal Present: The Beginnings of Art (1962), and The Beginnings of Architecture (1964). His last book, Architecture and the phenomena of Transition was sent to his publisher upon his death.