1938–2018

Paul Andreu, French Modernist hero, has passed away

International Obit
Paul Andreu has passed away. Shown: Andreu’s futuristic designs for Terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. (gnrklk/Flickr)
Paul Andreu has passed away. Shown: Andreu’s futuristic designs for Terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. (gnrklk/Flickr)

Iconic French Modernist architect Paul Andreu has passed away at age 80.

The legendary designer is best known for the futuristic designs he created for France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) outside of Paris, where Andreu served as chief architect between 1967 and 2002.

Andreu was spotted in a group photo featuring Dominique Perrault, Christian de Portzamparc, Tadao Ando, Renzo Piano, and Jean Nouvel on social media last week while attending a dinner at the Centre Pompidou honoring architect Ando; France’s Le Monde, reported that Andreu appeared to be very tired to several journalists at the event. Andreu passed away just a few days later.

Andreu is credited with the airport’s signature Modernist design elements, including the much-Instagrammed Terminal 1 at the airport. The circular building is punctuated by a skylight-topped atrium that is crisscrossed by sloping, glass tube escalators, elements that help bring people from upper-level drop-off and check-in areas to the shopping and terminal levels located below.

Andreu joined the project partway through design—development for the airport had begun in 1964—and is credited with the drum-shaped design for the terminal. The iconic structure features singularly-programmed floor plates and its design was inspired by the form of an octopus.

Andreu was also chief designer for the airport’s other terminals.

In 2002, a partial collapse at the then-under-construction Terminal 2E resulted in the deaths of four people. Independent investigators did not find a singular cause for the failure but instead blamed tight budgetary constraints and a resulting lack of margin of error in the safety-related elements for the tragedy. Andreu, in turn, blamed contractors for preparing a faulty concrete mix for the structure, which was designed as a thin concrete barrel vaulted system.

Eventually, the collapsed elements were demolished and replaced with a new terminal of more conventional design.

Andreu served as chief of construction on the Grande Arche project while working for architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen. (ColdCreation/Wikimedia)

Architectural Record reported that before his career-defining work at CDG, Andreu worked as chief of construction on the Johan Otto von Spreckelsen-designed Grande Arche monument in Paris’s La Defense district. The arch was built to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution and was inaugurated in 1989.

According to Structurae, Andreu was also responsible for the design of many other airports around the world, including the Jakarta Airport in 1986 and airports in Tehran, Iran and Harare, Zimbabwe, both from 1996. Andreu also designed the Beijing Opera and Oriental Arts Center in Shanghai, China, in 2002.

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