Posts tagged with "Paris":

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Foster + Partners pitches new Notre Dame spire as competition heats up

Norman Foster has jumped into the international competition to design a replacement spire for Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral, proposing a glass-and-steel topper to replace the cathedral’s ruined roof. According to an interview in English publication The Times, Foster presented his vision for a new “light and airy” roof for the fire-ravaged cathedral. The previous attic space dated back to the 12th century and was nicknamed “The Forest,” as it contained a tangle of 1,300 timber frames, each coming from a unique oak tree—the sheer amount of wood likely fed the fire that ravaged it last week. Foster’s updated vision for the cathedral calls for installing a glass topper, arched to mimic the original wooden roof, ribbed with lightweight steel supports. The new spire would be made of glass and steel and could potentially include an observation deck at its base. “In every case, the replacement used the most advanced building technology of the age,” Foster told The Guardian. “It never replicated the original. In Chartres, the 12th-century timbers were replaced in the 19th century by a new structure of cast iron and copper. The decision to hold a competition for the rebuilding of Notre Dame is to be applauded because it is an acknowledgment of that tradition of new interventions.” The modernization scheme drew an immediate reaction online, where social media users compared the revamped cathedral to a Foster-designed Apple store or the glass Reichstag dome in Berlin. Additionally, several people pointed out that the plan to flood the interior with light would be hamstrung by the stone vaulted ceiling below the attic space and would blow out any light coming in from the historic stained-glass windows. Of course, Foster isn’t the only architect to propose a radical overhaul of the 19th -century spire. Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, known for his neo-Gothic, laser-cut steel sculptures, announced last week that he would be entering the design competition as well. Since the international competition was announced, plenty of people have gotten creative in envisioning “adaptive reuse” projects that give the historic cathedral a bland, modernist overhaul without regard for its surroundings. Even though these have been done in jest, some of them have come quite close to what Foster has proposed. Foster + Partners has clarified that the illustration formerly accompanying this article was not produced by the office or Norman Foster.
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Hand-crafted bricks add visual depth to this French music school

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Located on a prominent site within the town of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, 20 miles from the center of Paris, the Elancourt Music School is a weighty two-story structure clad in hand-made bricks that stagger to create a series of apertures to illuminate interior spaces. The nearly 10,000-square-foot project was designed by Paris-based Opus 5 Architectes and completed in October 2018. Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines is one of six major "new towns" built around Paris during the 1970s. The settlements are marked by their towering brutalist structures, and the Elancourt Music School is housed in the district’s former ecumenical center, a centrally placed concrete structure originally designed by French architect Phillippe Deslandes. Opus 5 reskinned this concrete building with a new brick veneer to establish the structure's new identity.
  • Facade Manufacturer Wienerberger
  • Architects Opus 5 Architectes
  • Facade Installer SRMG
  • Facade Consultants Batiserf Wienerberger
  • Location Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Brick rainscreen and sun filter
  • Products Wienerberger Briques Oud Leerne
For the fabrication of the facade, the design team turned to the centuries-old Austrian brick manufacturer, Wienerberger. The bricks, all roughly measuring eight-by-four-by-two-inches, are held in place by tie rods and a thin layer of mortar. Each application of mortar is recessed and measures under an inch deep, providing the facade a mortar-less appearance. The bricks, which come in a range of grayish shades, are generally arranged in a stretcher bond format—alternately showing long and short sides. This formal arrangement breaks as the bricks shift apart to form mashrabiya-inspired sunscreens. “The idea was to begin at the bottom, without relief or mashrabiya, as an opaque and simple brick facade which progressively moves into sinusoidal and wavy relief and texture to be widely opened along the interior windows,” said Opus 5 Architectes project manager Hùng Tôn. "Once we gave rules for the pattern, the shades of color (from light gray to dark charcoal, with some light brown) and texture (matte and glossy) came randomly during the construction of the brick walls to keep dynamism on this skin." Throughout the design process, Opus 5 Architectes collaborated closely with the facade manufacturer to establish the structure's monolithic character—Wienerberger considered the use of timber and metallic frames to cantilever the brick over the school's primary entrance. "According to Wienerberger, the main brick reference used in the project (Rustica Oud Leerne) was never executed like this—visually mortarless, with mashrabiya patterns," continued Tôn. "The project is novel, so it was an interesting exercise for the manufacturer too."
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Here’s what saved the Notre Dame Cathedral from total destruction

The world watched in total shock on Monday evening as a devastating fire ravaged parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. For a moment it looked like the French landmark might be lost completely, but firefighters acted quickly to save the 850-year-old Gothic church. Though a battered version of its former self, Notre Dame still stands today largely because its 226-foot twin bell towers were kept from ruin. “The bell towers are actually like bookends,” noted Thomas Leslie, a Gothic structures specialist and the Morrill Professor of Architecture at Iowa State University. “They keep the last vaults from toppling over or spreading out. A lot of people know that flying buttresses are supporting the vaults in one direction from the exterior, but those vaults also want to collapse along the nave. If stone bell towers, which have wooden structures inside them, had ignited and had collapsed, the whole cathedral could have come down in an instant.” In other words, at some point the Paris Fire Brigade made the decision to stop focusing on the expansive roof fire, and spend its resources on the stone bell towers, both of which date back to the mid-13th century. “The roof was a lost cause and they knew it wasn’t going to lead to the collapse of the building’s skeleton,” asserted Leslie. When the fire began around 6:50 p.m. on Monday, panic spread throughout the world about the Notre Dame’s potential downfall. A roof fire, by most standards, is catastrophic. But what much of the media didn’t realize at first, Leslie argued, was that the wooden roof was detached from the structure itself and couldn’t trigger the building's total collapse. Enough heat, however, could melt the masonry over the nave—the stonework on the structure was already under close watch. For the past few years, Notre Dame has been undergoing an extensive, $6.8 million restoration. A piece of medieval construction, it’s been renovated and added onto several times in its history. The 315-foot-tall oak spire that fell in the fire was designed by French architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and installed in 1860 after the French Revolution and the elements had damaged the structure. Luckily, the 16 copper statues of the 12 apostles and four evangelists that sat at the spire’s base were removed for cleaning just last week and thus spared from the fire. Along with the stone bell towers, the famed trio of round stained-glass windows survived the fire, including the famous South Rose window, which was donated by King St. Louis in 1260. The deputy mayor of Paris said Notre Dame’s 8,000-pipe Great Organ also sustained the event though it did suffer repairable damages. Several news outlets have reported the church’s irreplaceable art and artifacts were rescued and transferred to the Louvre Museum for safe keeping. While these elements were saved, there’s a gaping hole left now in the nave less than 48 hours after the fire, exposing the interior of the cathedral. For Leslie, it’s the water damage done by the fire squad that’s even more concerning. “When you walk into a cathedral, what you see on the inside is the stone vaulting, there for structural and spatial reasons,” he said. “The timber roof above it essentially for weatherproofing. It keeps rain, snow, and ice off the limestone vaults. I noticed through images that water had pretty clearly penetrated the mortar joints in the surviving vaults. Limestone and lime mortar are both vulnerable to fire in the sense that they don’t burn, they turn into powder.” Securing the existing stonework within Notre Dame and protecting it from weather-damage in the near future are undoubtedly top of mind for the temporary restoration effort moving forward. For the long term, President Emmanuel Macron has promised a rebuild and people have already pledged over $900 million towards the planned reconstruction. Even an international competition to redesign the spire ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris has already been launched. Lisa Ackerman, interim CEO for the New York–based World Monument Fund, noted the energy of the moment. “The good thing about all this is that we live in a world where you find out about tragedies instantly and we’ve found both the outpouring of financial support for Notre Dame to be tremendous, as well as the outpouring of assistance from experts who can help rebuild." For example, the late art historian Andrew Tallon from Vassar College had scanned the entire cathedral with an accuracy within five millimeters. His detailed work is laid out in a stunning 3D laser map of Notre Dame, a piece of pivotal documentation that will likely be used in the restoration efforts. Even the popular video game Assassin’s Creed Unity, which is set in Paris, could be helpful. It’s publisher, Ubisoft, has offered expertise. Collecting global documentation of Notre Dame will help in the upcoming work to stabilize the building for centuries to come. Integrating fire-safe products in the reconstruction, said Ackerman, will help ensure a catastrophic disaster like this doesn’t happen again. “Preservation is always an act of negotiating the past with the present and the visual aesthetic qualities of the structure with new knowledge we have about materials,” she said. “The greatest danger to a historic building is when people think its issues are permanently resolved. Hopefully this was a reminder that many of the sites we take for granted actually have needs and must be continually repaired and investigated for their own wellbeing. If we defer maintenance, we endanger buildings in ways that are clearly unimaginable.”
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France launches an international competition to rebuild Notre Dame’s spire

After the Notre Dame Cathedral tragically caught fire earlier this week, it seemed that work to rebuild what was lost could take decades. However, in a televised address last night, French president Emmanuel Macron declared that he would be pushing an ambitious five-year schedule and would be reopening the cathedral in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Additionally, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that France would be holding an international design competition to rebuild the cathedral’s downed spire. “This is obviously a huge challenge, a historic responsibility,” said Philippe, adding that the new design should be “adapted to technologies and challenges of our times.” Rather than strictly recreating Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc’s original barbed spire from the mid-1800s (itself an invention added after the French Revolution and wind damage left the cathedral in shambles), Philippe questioned if it was time to modernize the building. Philippe reportedly asked, "whether we should even recreate the spire as it was conceived by Viollet-le-Duc…or if, as is often the case in the evolution of heritage, we should endow Notre-Dame with a new spire." No timetable or cost for the spire competition has been announced as of yet, but funding likely won’t be an issue. At the time of writing, $900 million has been pledged for Notre Dame’s reconstruction as hundred-million-Euro donations from some of the world’s wealthiest people and corporations continue to flow towards the project.
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Paris’s historic Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames

A large fire has engulfed Paris’s historic Notre Dame Cathedral, causing an incredible amount of damage to the 800-year-old stone and wood structure. Reports of the fire started circulating online late Monday afternoon, Paris time, as tourists and residents posted photos and videos of the blaze on social media. As of Monday evening, the majority of the blaze had been contained, though it had not been entirely put out. Initial reports indicate that the main structure has been “saved and preserved” despite substantial damage to other elements. Portions of the transept and nave roof collapsed during the blaze, as did the cathedral’s main spire. Reports indicate that the cathedral’s main western stained glass rosette window has been destroyed, as well. Other reports indicate that other stained glass windows remain but their status is not entirely known at this time. Many of the relics held at the church—including the Crown of Thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ—were promptly removed and secured, according to authorities. Because of ongoing restoration work, large bronze statues depicting the twelve apostles typically located near the spire that collapsed, including a statue of St. Thomas the Apostle bearing the likeness of architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, were recently relocated to southern France for restoration. Following the blaze, French citizens took to the streets singing prayer songs and chanting in solidarity and mourning for France’s premier cultural and religious site. The cathedral welcomes over 13 million tourists every year according to official estimates and was currently undergoing restoration work. Some of the initial images seen from inside the still smoldering nave of the church taken by journalists Monday night showed damage that appeared less dire than originally feared. In short order, France’s wealthiest citizens began pledging large donations to help pay for the restoration of the cathedral. So far, over $600 million has been promised to the project. “This cathedral will be rebuilt, I promise you," French president Emmanuel Macron said in a speech following the blaze while announcing that a national campaign will get underway on Tuesday to collect the funds necessary for the rebuilding effort. Macron added, “We will rebuild Notre Dame because that is what the French expect and it is what the French deserve.”
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Christo to wrap the Arc de Triomphe in plastic next spring

Bulgarian-born artist Christo is making a triumphant return to the large-scale building wrapping projects that he’s famous for, with plans to fully envelop Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. From April 6 through April 19, 2020, Parisian bystanders, tourists, and art patrons will be able to view l’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris, Place de l’Étoile-Charles de Gaulle). Using nearly 270,000 square feet of recyclable silver-blue polypropylene fabric bound by 23,000 feet of red rope, one of the city’s most famous, and visible, public icons will be reduced to pure form. The project is moving ahead after winning approval from France’s government and the Center for National Monuments yesterday. Wrapping the archway has been a dream of Christo’s since 1962, when he sketched the monument while living with his artistic partner and late wife Jeanne-Claude in Paris, later returning to create additional studies in the ’70s and ’80s. That the piece is being realized now, Christo’s first wrapping project since the death of Jeanne-Claude in 2009, is no coincidence. l’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped will run concurrently with Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Paris at the Pompidou Centre, which will document the couple’s formative period in Paris, where they lived from 1958 through 1964. The show will put previously unseen works on display, including sketches and paintings, as well as trace the lineage of the pair’s most well-known works, such as the wrapping of the Pont-Neuf in 1985. “Thirty-five years after Jeanne-Claude and I wrapped the Pont-Neuf, I am eager to work in Paris again to realize our project for the Arc de Triomphe,” said Christo in a statement. While the arc above is wrapped, the eternal flame at its center, installed in 1923 above the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, will continue to be fully maintained.
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The Longchamp Racecourse goes for the gold with a metallic facade

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In 2011, Dominique Perrault Architecture (DPA) was chosen by France Galop, the governing body of horse racing in France, to redesign and modernize Paris’s venerable Longchamp Racecourse. Located in the city’s second largest park, Bois de Boulogne, the design of the 160,000-square-foot project seeks to connect to the surrounding landscape—the racecourse’s most prestigious events occur during the fall—with a luminous gold-yellow aluminum and steel facade. Construction of the project was completed in January 2018.
  • Facade Manufacturer GKD (metal mesh), Saint Gobain (glazing), LCD Pose (mesh frames),          Bysteel
  • Architects Dominique Perrault Architecture
  • Facade Installer Bouygues Bâtiments Ile-de-France Ouvrages Publics, Bysteels (curtain walls)
  • Facade Consultants Terrell Group
  • Location Paris, France
  • Date of Completion January 2018
  • System Metal and glass curtain wall
  • Products GKD AISI Type 316 SS,SGG PLANITHERM XN thermal comfort double glazing on SGG DIAMANT extra-light glass, LCD Pose mesh frames
Opened to the public in 1857 as part of Haussmann’s civic improvement schemes, the Longchamp Racecourse has undergone significant transformations over the course of its century-and-a-half existence, including the destruction of two historic grandstands in favor of mid-century concrete pavilions that dwarfed their surroundings. DPA's update stripped away these bare concrete additions, built a new 10,000-person capacity grandstand, and restored surrounding historic structures, with the goal of boosting year-round use of the facility and its overall cohesion with the surrounding city. The new 525-foot-long grandstand has a polished golden hue, which contrasts with the bright white coloring of adjacent historic structures. Aluminum and steel in a variety of treatments and configurations clad a steel and concrete structural system. For the curtain wall, DPA opted for sliding, 10-foot tall stainless steel mesh panels stretched within a frame by a simple pin and rod mechanism. Produced by metal fabrics manufacturer GKD and framed by LCD Pose, the operable panels are a subtle kinetic element that facilitates natural ventilation and light filtration. An aluminum rainscreen, produced and installed by Bysteel, courses across the complex in flat rectangular panels to create a protruding chevron frieze. Below the cantilevered top balcony, the iridescent cladding serves as a semi-reflective soffit that distorts the scene below. Glass panels, measuring approximately six feet in width and four feet in height, line the grandstand as a semi-translucent balustrade. To ensure visibility of the racetrack for the audience, glass manufacturer and glaze specialist Saint Gobain provided low-iron SGG Diamant panels, facilitating greater light transmittance and minimal green tint. The panels were screen printed with pixelated patterns evoking foliage across the facade. The massing of the grandstand is meant to represent the motion of a galloping horse: the top floor dramatically cantilevers 65 feet over a steel-and-concrete console and inclines toward the adjacent racecourse. With open-ended terraces—referred to as "transparent shelves" by DPA—and a design that faces outward, the crowd is afforded vistas of the stables below and the city beyond.
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Karl Lagerfeld debuts his perfectly postmodern sculpture collection

Legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, perhaps most famous for reviving the house of Chanel, which he has helmed since 1983, is breaking into sculpture in Architectures, an exhibition now on view at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Paris. The marble objects—tables, mirrors, lamps, a working fountain—are inspired by the forms from the cityscapes of classical antiquity and were created in collaboration with the architect Aline Asmar d’Amman. As should be expected from the man behind luxury labels like Fendi and his own eponymous brand, the very limited-edition pieces in Architectures are made from exceptionally fine materials, including white Arabescato Fantastico marble, a variety of the stone that has not been quarried for over thirty years. This is not Lagerfeld’s first foray into the world of collectible design—he’s previously worked on a photographic project with Cassina—however this is the first time the designer has created original sculptural objects. Karl Lagerfeld: Architectures Carpenter Workshop Gallery 54 Rue de la Verrerie, Paris Through December 22  
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Hirshhorn sculpture garden will be dedicated entirely to works by Lee Ufan

Washington D.C's Hirshhorn Museum has announced a site-specific commission for the Korean artist Lee Ufan that will debut in fall 2019. Approximately ten new sculptures related to the artist’s “Relatum” series will be installed across the museum’s 4.3-acre sculpture garden. An exhibit of Lee’s abstract painting within the museum will accompany the outdoor installation. This is the first time in the institution’s half-century history that its sculpture garden will be dedicated entirely to a single artist. A founder of Japan’s Mono-ha, or "School of Things" movement, Lee’s work emphasizes the relationship between site, materials and the viewer. This holistic treatment of artistic elements appeals to a contemplative and dynamic engagement with the work rather than static perception. The poignancy of Lee’s work derives from the thoughtful assembly of contrasting materials, which are subject to minimal alteration. Lee, who lives in Kamakura, Japan and Paris, will spend the next year conducting site visits to the Hirshhorn Museum. Additionally, Lee will visit individual quarries across the East Coast to source local materials to construct his work. Each sculpture constructed for the installation will relate to the museum’s unique circular form, allowing visitors multiple vantage points from above to view Lee’s work in the plaza below. While the installation will be Lee Ufan's first exhibition on the National Mall, the artist has conducted over 140 one-artist exhibits across the globe. These stand-alone works include 'Resonance' at the 2007 Venice Biennale, a major retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in 2011, and a sprawling display of sculptural works on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles.
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Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s early sculpture highlights architecture at the street level

For its 2018 edition, BRAFA, the Belgian art and antiques fair, honored Christo and Jeanne-Claude by exhibiting an early sculpture which has characterized their work ever since. We speak to Christo about working in the public realm, the importance of architecture, and why he would never accept any donations to fund his projects. Christo and Jeanne-Claude are best known for their large-scale, temporary works of art that intervene on the built environment as well as the natural world, like the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont Neuf in Paris, or more recently, the installment of floating walkways on Italy’s Lake Iseo. But it’s a far lesser-known work that the latest edition of BRAFA Art Fair celebrated earlier this month in Brussels. Three Store Fronts (1965-66), a rarely-exhibited, early sculpture 46 feet long and 8.2 feet tall, mimics the facades of a retail space, and marks an important shift in the artists’ career: from objects to environments. When the Bulgarian-born Christo met his late-wife Jeanne-Claude in Paris in 1958 (she passed away in 2009), his work mostly revolved around the wrapping of everyday objects, like cans and bottles. The couple first turned their attention to the outdoors in 1961, with the artwork Stacked Oil Barrels and Dockside Packages (also considered their first collaboration), installed at the Cologne Harbor, then again the following year, with Wall of Oil Barrels - The Iron Curtain in Paris, a response to the construction of the Berlin Wall. From 1963 until 1968, the development of their sculptural works Show Cases, Show Windows and Store Fronts, further solidified their interest in the public realm. In Show Cases, Christo collected glass displays and medical cabinets from flea markets in Paris, then hung pieces of fabric or pasted paper on the pane interiors, overturning their functions. While these works still largely revolved around an object (comparable to the early Wrapped Cans or Packages), they paved the way for the much larger, life-sized series Show Windows and Store Fronts — of which the views were, again, obstructed with fabric. Their proportions echoed the dimensions of the architecture of New York, where the couple emigrated to in 1964. “These works related to the architectural space of the street,” Christo explains of Show Windows and Store Fronts. “In some way, they were a precursor of works that we did later, like the Valley Curtains in Colorado, or the Running Fence in California.” Both of these projects were extremely ambitious in scale, and shared many similarities with a construction project, says Christo. Valley Curtains, completed in 1972 and removed after only 28 hours, due to a strong gale, featured over 200,000 square feet of woven nylon fabric orange curtain, installed across the Grand Hogback mountain range in Colorado. “We had the same people who build and suspend bridges, from suppliers to construction workers,” explains Christo, whose father ran a fabric factory. Meanwhile, Running Fence (completed in 1976) was made of over 2 million square feet of heavy woven white nylon fabric, extending over 24 miles east-west from the north of San Francisco and down to Bodega Bay. It required 18 public hearings, three sessions at the Superior Courts of California, the drafting of an extensive Environmental Impact Report and the temporary use of the hills, sky and ocean. The Store Fronts series certainly represent a milestone in the artists’ oeuvre, where the environment came to frame their artistic discourse. But for Christo, architecture always played an important role. When he studied at the Sofia Academy of Arts in the 1950s, the curriculum was heavily modeled after the German system, where students would equally study fine arts, decorative arts and architecture. “So it was natural that I was interested in architecture,” he laughs, when I ask about the architectural quality of his projects’ preparatory drawings. And it is precisely these drawings, as well as other collages and lithographs (many of which will be featured in a major exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries in London this summer), that enabled the funding of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s costly, temporary outdoor works. “I refuse any donations,” insists the outspoken, 82-year old artist, who recently cancelled a project over the Arkansas river in Colorado that was 20 years in the making and cost $15 million to date, in protest against its landlord, President Donald Trump. “I escaped from a communist country; I will not give one millimeter of my freedom for anything.” BRAFA Art Fair ran from January 27 until February 4, at Tours & Taxis, Brussels, Belgium. Christo & Jeanne-Claude. Urban Projects runs until February 25, at ING Art Centre, Brussels.
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Paris vies for post-Brexit business with skyscraper building boom

Paris is not known for skyscrapers. Its largest, the plodding, 690-foot Tour Montparnasse, is also acknowledged as the ugliest building in the metropolis. (Buildings in Paris itself were banned from rising above seven stories two years after Montparnasse was constructed.) And its largest concentration of towers, the La Defense district just west of the city limits, has not produced a critical mass of towers since it was created decades ago. But if plans hold, this is about to change significantly, as French officials and business owners have announced plans to overhaul both Montparnasse and La Defense, while the city's largest tower since Montparnasse, Herzog & De Meuron’s Tour Triangle, continues to move ahead. The owners of Tour Montparnasse, Ensemble Immobilier Tour Maine-Montparnasse, last month commissioned French consortium Nouvelle AOM to reclad and renovate the Tour Montparnasse as part of a $350 million modernization. The firm defeated an illustrious shortlist of international competitors that included Studio Gang (the runner up), OMA, MAD and Dominique Perrault Architecture. Nouvelle AOM consists of French architects Franklin Azzi, Fréderic Chartier, Pascale Dalix, Mathurin Hardel and Cyrille Le Bihan. Their plan will not only reskin the muted tower in a crystalline shell of multi-directional glass panels, but it will incorporate gardens into its façade and interior, highlighted by a mammoth sky garden on top. It will also modernize its interior and improve the surrounding plazas and landscapes, knitting the aloof tower back into the city fabric. Meanwhile last winter French President Emmanuel Macron (then still a candidate for President), shared Defacto La Defense's (the group that manages the area) plans to build seven new skyscrapers in the La Defense district by famed architects incuding Jean Nouvel, Arquitectonica, Foster + Partners, Christian de Portzamparc and others by 2022. The goal—touted by a marketing campaign called “Tired of the Fog, Try the Frogs!”— was to reposition the area as a business alternative to London, where Brexit has cast a confusing pall over international corporations. The towers, if built, would be called Trinity, Alto, M2, Hekla, Sisters, Air 2 and Hermitage Plaza. Marie-Célie Guillaume, chief executive of Defacto La Defense, last winter told FT that they wanted to send a “powerful message to businesses that are uncertain about their future.” It remains to be seen whether all of these projects will indeed move ahead, although, for one, Foster's web site still lists Hermitage as a go. Finally, Herzog & De Meuron’s Tour Triangle, a 591-foot-tall tower that will be the first within the city limits since Montparnasse (that law banning tall buildings in Paris was overturned a few years ago), continues to move ahead since its approval back in 2015. Located on the site of the Parc des Expositions in the 15th Arrondissement, the crystalline building’s pyramidal form is meant, say the architects, to open up a massive internal atrium, reduce shadows on adjacent buildings, and to create an increased setback from the nearby peripheral boulevard. Herzog & De Meuron’s web site lists completion at 2020. Most agree that the Tour Montparnasse is in need of a facelift. As for the remaining towers, Parisians are unsurprisingly split. Many have hailed the influx of offices, residential space and modernity into what is a frustratingly-frozen city. But opponents fear the beloved character that makes Paris Paris is destined to be lost. "Unless someone stops them now, international starchitects and their developer and corporate patrons will succeed in vandalizing the horizon of Paris," exclaimed preservation group SOS Paris after the announcement of the Tour Triangle. On verra.
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The Louvre just pulled out on these humping buildings

The Louvre has put the kibosh on a controversial sex sculpture that was set to go up in its next-door neighbors' garden. The Domestikator is an architectural sculpture created by Dutch collective Atelier Van Lieshout in 2015, depicting two red humaniform buildings engaging in what can only be described here as a lewd act. The sculpture was scheduled to be exhibited in Paris' Tuileries Gardens as a public-facing element of the FIAC contemporary art fair in October, but has just been withdrawn after protest from the Louvre, the gardens' neighboring institution. Jean-Luc Martinez, the Louvre's acting director, sent a letter of explanation to Le Monde in which he wrote that the work "risks being misunderstood by visitors to the garden." Seeing as the sculpture would have been located near a playground and within direct eyesight of the museum's patrons, it is altogether easy to imagine the board meeting leading to this decision. It may seem even less surprising after a much more vitriolic response quashed the installation of a giant Paul McCarthy sculpture (resembling what can only be described here as a "hidden accessory") as it rose in one of Paris' central plazas. With AN's steadfast commitment to a neutral tone, we will not (at this time) take a firm stance on the controversy beyond noting that Domestikator is painted a very nice red, employs massing creatively, and we wish we were writing this under the light of its tower room window. Atelier Van Lieshout has offered its own take on the sculpture in slightly more subtle terms than might be expected: "The act of domestication ... often leads to boundaries being sought or even crossed. It is this difficult balance that Atelier Van Lieshout seeks to address." The description on its website makes a slightly bolder statement: "It symbolizes the power of humanity over the world and pays tribute to the ingenuity, the sophistication and the capacities of humanity, to the power of organisation, and to the use of this power to dominate the natural environment." In this context, the roles occupied by the buildings take on a bit of a different light ... definitely involving a tad more subordination. The collective's founder, Joep Van Lieshout, originally planned to live within Domestikator for the duration of the festival, creating "a series of objects in collaboration with invited artists." AN's imagination is running wild with exactly what those objects might have been. After the festival's planner's attempted to find alternate locations for the structure and failed, it appears the installation has been entirely dropped from the program. The sculpture is being de-installed today from the RuhrTriennale (an arts festival) in Bochum, Germany.