The Pavillon de L’Arsenal (Arsenal Pavilion), an exhibition space dedicated to architecture and urbanism in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, is currently closed to the public to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. One of its current main exhibitions, however, seems to have been born for the internet in anticipation of the pandemic. Artificial Intelligence and Architecture, an exhibition that “showcases for the first time the minds who have initiated a dialogue between technology and discipline,” recently premiered online with a ‘walkthrough’ of a 3D-modeled, barrel-vaulted space resembling the interior of the Pavillon de l’Arsenal. The exhibition begins with a button that reads “Visit Start," at which visitors encounter a bilingual wall text introducing the four categories of the show: Modularity, computer-aided design (CAD), parametrics, and artificial intelligence (AI). One can then engage the infographics detailing those four categories in a long hallway before engaging with a series of archival videos highlighting the innovations of architectural computation over a 100-year period that includes interviews with Yona Friedman, Ivan Sutherland, Frank Gehry, Patrik Schumacher, and members of the Architecture Machine Group. The exhibition ends with recently executed experiments in the development of architectural plans, elevations, structures, and perspectives using AI software. The internet appears to be the ideal location for this exhibition, given the wealth of diagrams, texts, and video content on display that would be nearly impossible to absorb in a physical space. Yet, the virtual tour also becomes an effective fifth element of the exhibition, providing further proof that there is now an inseparable link between architecture and digital tools. The show offers yet another solution for gallery spaces to consider while they remain closed during stay-at-home orders that include the robot-assisted tours currently at Hastings Contemporary and the hundreds of virtual museum experiences offered by Google Arts & Culture. Designed by Stanislas Chaillou, a recent graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and data scientist for the Oslo- and Boston-based AI technology company Spacemaker, Artificial Intelligence & Architecture will be available online until May 5.
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Following the extensive damage incurred by a fire in April of last year, Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral became the subject of an ongoing reconstruction plan that has since gained international attention. While work was halted this month amid the citywide shutdown ordered by President Emmanuel Macron to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, two men visited the construction site on the night of March 17 with the intention of stealing as many original building materials as they could source and carry, some of which were hand-carved several centuries ago, prior to their arrest. According to Le Parisien, the two men were spotted under a tarp after breaking in through a fault in the construction site by guards that were hired to patrol the area around the clock during its closure, and that they had the intention of later selling the ancient stones on the black market. “Notre-Dame has always been a [place of] fantasy; there's a black market,” André Finot, the spokesman for Notre-Dame, told the newspaper. “One finds stones from the cathedral for sale on eBay. Except that they're fake.” The buildings elements the two attempted to steal were likely primarily limestone, a material commonly used throughout Paris and greater Europe that becomes brittle when exposed to fire. The combination of this month’s shutdown of the construction site and the attempted theft of its precious few remaining threatens to push the completion date of the cathedral's date even further in the future. As AN reported two months ago, Jean-Louis Georgelin, a French general overseeing the building’s reconstruction, announced that its ceilings could collapse if immediate action wasn't taken. At that point in its timeline, Georgelin ordered the preservation team to remove the scaffolding around the spire by this summer and take the prior precautions before resuming restoration in 2021. Construction had also been halted by lead contamination, a spat between the general in charge and its chief architect, and a report that the structure in its entirety is structurally unsound. With delays mounting because of COVID-19, the structure may be growing even more precarious.
François Pinault, the founder of the luxury group Kering and the investment company Artémis, is known throughout Europe as an avid supporter of contemporary art. In 2017, Pinault announced that he had purchased Paris’s former stock exchange Bourse de Commerce, two blocks north of the Louvre Museum, to house at least a portion of his vast collection. “With the creation of this new museum,” Pinault wrote of the institution, now titled Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection, on its official website, “I am writing the next chapter of my cultural project, whose goal is to share my passion for contemporary art with as broad an audience as possible.” With an estimated budget of $170 million, he commissioned famed Japanese architect Tadao Ando to renovate the 19th-century domed structure with the assistance of local talent including NeM Architects, architect Pierre-Antoine Gatier, and engineering firm Setec. Pinault additionally entrusted designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec with the interior and exterior furnishings. Three years later, the project is nearly ready for the public. To renovate the Bourse de Commerce to its condition in 1889, the year in which all of its additions were first completed, the team used archival documents produced by architect Henri Blondel to analyze the original carpentry of the facades, update the marble mosaic tiles lining the interior of the vestibule and rotunda, replaced the glass canopy, and reinforced the iron framework on cast-iron columns. Restoring the paintings lining the interior of the dome proved to be an enormous challenge in itself, yet in the process, the team discovered graffiti and other embellishments from previous eras. Ando’s greatest contribution to the space is a large, cylindrical concrete wall at the center of the multistory interior designed to increase wall space for exhibitions without visually competing with the hand-painted dome above. There will also be a restaurant added on the top floor of the building, as well as an auditorium with 300 seats, and a black-box theater for video installations and experimental performances. According to the museum’s website, the additional components of the building, which was once solely animated by the frenzy of the stock market, “will become the actors in a scenography intended to remove visitors from their daily lives, to allow them to focus on what’s before their eyes, on the here and now.” The institution is expected to have ten special exhibitions a year on average while also featuring work from Pinault’s private collection. The opening date has been pushed more than once; it was first scheduled to be complete in 2019, then once again in June of this year. According to ARTnews, the institution’s opening has again been postponed due to the coronavirus, and is now scheduled to welcome visitors sometime in September. When complete, the Bourse de Commerce—Pinault Collection will be the third gallery Ando has completed for Pinault, following the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana in Venice, Italy.
A new generation of French designers is taking the country’s architecture in a new direction, from a position of opulence and excess to one grounded in humanism. At the forefront of this movement, Bruther, the Parisian practice established by Stéphanie Bru and Alexandre Theriot in 2007, works across architecture, research, education, urbanism, and landscape, consistently shunning fads in order to focus on the firm’s main preoccupation: malleability. Bruther’s flexible architecture is an attempt to assure its buildings endure regardless of changing requirements; the firm’s methodology insinuates that its buildings’ obsolescence is determined only by the limits of their users. Bruther’s projects form a blank canvas designed to give their occupants a hand in the building’s creation, ensuring that they are built for the users and not in spite of them. New Generation Research Center Caen, France With limited means, Bruther designed this 27,000-square-foot, 110-foot-tall building as a collaborative space and incubator dedicated to research and innovation for Le Dome, an organization aiming to create a tech hub in Normandy by providing spaces for like-minded individuals to further their research. Theriot refers to the research center as a “vertical hangar” in reference to the restrictive budget, austere material palette, and tall, open floors of the building. The belvedere on its top serves as an event space and frames views over the surrounding landscape all the way to the banks of the Orne river. Cultural and Sports Center Paris 20th arrondissement, France Nestled in Saint-Blaise, an area within Paris’s 20th arrondissement, Bruther’s 2014 cultural and sports center preserves one of the area’s only public spaces in one of Europe’s densest neighborhoods. Launched by the government’s urban regeneration program (Grand projet de renouvellement urbain), the center’s large uninterrupted spaces allow the building to host a myriad of uses and cater to the changing will of its community. The glazed curtain walls render the 14,000-square-foot building a legible monument to the life of its occupants. Residence for Researchers Paris 14th arrondissement, France Wedged between Paris’s Périphérique, the motorway that surrounds Paris, and the Cité Universitaire, a large academic residential campus, the Residence for Researchers was completed in 2017 for a public housing body. The building responds to the neighboring architecture as it sits on pilotis grazing the nearby ring road and is sliced on the lower levels by catwalks and ramps. Bruther cut away the middle third of the massing’s large cube so that two blocks flank a central passage that accommodates a triangular circulation core and an open spiral stair. The 50,000-square-foot residence holds apartments for researchers at the University of Paris. The H-plan allowed Bruther to play with transparency and depth, a stark contrast to the neighboring Brazil House or Swiss Pavilion by Le Corbusier. The design demonstrates Bruther’s rejection of pastiche and dogma, as the tectonics are a direct consequence of ideological and budgetary utilitarianism. Galeries Lafayette Pau, France The firm’s approach is further illustrated by its 2019 winning competition entry for the refurbishment of the upmarket French department store, Galeries Lafayette, in the southwestern city of Pau. Currently in the detail design stage, the scheme demonstrates the architects’ willingness to challenge preconceptions about contemporary retail spaces, hinting at a rebellion against black box typology. Instead, the verdant spaces, exposed structure, and ETFE panels allow for a light-filled building, reinstating a connection between the shopping mall and the city. Life Sciences Building Lausanne, Switzerland A collaboration with Belgian practice Baukunst, the Life Sciences Building for the University of Lausanne is due to be completed in 2024. Bruther’s first venture into laboratories, the building is as carefully considered as its older sibling, the Rolex Learning Centre by SANAA, nearby. Theriot speaks of the “organization of the plan” that fosters collaboration, and this building manifests as an “urban machine” that is almost Pompidou-esque in its forms. The building’s loose planning gives the flexible workspaces the ability to evolve with technology. These workspaces compose the main volume of the building, while the ancillary spaces, which are more fixed, form elements of the envelope. Forum Zurich, Switzerland The Forum, for the University of Zurich, is another collaboration with Baukunst and marks a turn away from the strict geometries of the practice’s previous buildings. The building’s jaggedly shaped floorplates produce a series of superimposed landscapes, or “plains,” that create a “little town” in which the users are left to their own devices. Alexandre states that the undefined spaces allow for a certain amount of “permeability and porosity.” The competition for this building was ultimately won by Herzog & de Meuron, so Bruther’s design is destined to remain on paper. Nonetheless, the scheme is another example of Bruther’s penchant for experimentation, which we will no doubt see more of in years to come.
Despite the $1 billion raised in an effort to save Notre Dame Cathedral after it was ravaged by fire in April of last year, the 850-year-old structure continues to be under threat of further damage. Jean-Louis Georgelin, a French general overseeing the building's reconstruction, announced that its ceilings are still at risk of collapsing if immediate action isn't taken. “Notre Dame is not saved because ... there is an extremely important step ahead, which is to remove the scaffolding that had been built around the spire,” Georgelin explained in an interview with the Associated Press. The condition of the cathedral's vaults, a signature element of the overall design, is difficult to gauge given the centuries of reconstructive efforts performed by variously skilled craftsmen and the relatively little attention paid to them in the last year by the renovation team. “To make sure," Georgelin said, "we need to inspect them [and] remove the rubble that is still on them. It’s very difficult work that we have started.” Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, the rector of Notre Dame, added that there is a "50 percent chance" the landmark will be saved and predicted with the same likelihood that the 500 tons of scaffolding recently erected could fall onto the building's original three vaults. The news comes two months after the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor Michel Aupetit, announced that a final evaluation of the damage would be concluded in Spring 2020. “We will have to encircle the scaffolding, then put a second scaffolding over it," he said. "From this new scaffolding, workers will descend by rope and cut it bit by bit into small pieces and this will take a long time." The stonework of the vaults will then have to be examined on a near-individual level. “We cannot take any risks," Aupetit cautioned. "We have to know which ones need replacing and which ones to keep. Only then will we know how much [the repairs] will cost and how long they will take." The most likely method of preventing irreparable damage, Georgelin stated, is for the preservation team to remove the scaffolding by the middle of 2020 and resume restoration in 2021.
The drama surrounding the damaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Europe’s most visited monument, continues to build as the French government debates the fate of the cathedral's befallen spire. The National Assembly’s cultural commission was convening last week to discuss the renovation when General Jean-Louis Georgelin, appointed to spearhead the project by French President Emmanuel Macron, suggested chief architect Philippe Villeneuve should “just shut his big mouth.” The animosity is due to disagreement over the direction of the $1 billion restoration project. The devastating fire in April, whose cause is still under investigation, completely destroyed the mid-19th-century timber-and-lead spire and the majority of the medieval wooden roof, and President Macron announced an international design competition for a contemporary replacement soon after. Despite the passage of a bill in May ruling that the Notre Dame restoration must maintain the original design, the fate of its spire still appears up in the air. Chief architect Villeneuve, meanwhile, has made his opposition to anything short of an identical reconstruction clear. “I will restore it identically and it will be me, or they will build a modern spire and it won't be me,” said Villeneuve in an interview with the French radio station RTL last month. He invoked the 1964 Venice Charter, which requires restorations of historic buildings to retain their original architectural and historic value. General Georgelin was unequivocal when questioned by members of parliament, only confirming the President’s ambitious plan to complete the project by 2024, the same year the city will host the Summer Olympics. He promised to "move ahead in wisdom so that we can serenely make the best choice for Notre Dame, for Paris, for the world," reported The Art Newspaper. Nevertheless, construction on the roof and spire and cosmetic changes cannot begin until the cathedral's structure is fully stabilized. The building’s burnt scaffolding, which was erected for renovation work prior to the April fire, has yet to be dismantled for reconstruction to begin. France’s Cultural Minister, Franck Riester, announced last month that the scaffolding removal would begin imminently. However, this process alone could take four months according to Christophe-Charles Rousselot, head of the Notre Dame Foundation.
“The mass-production of rubble constitutes one of modern architecture’s main legacies,” said the French designer and researcher Anna Saint Pierre. So much of what gets built gets demolished, or decays and needs to be restored or renovated. She explained that “The building sector accounts for 50 percent of natural resource consumption and almost 40 percent of waste production within European territories.” To help combat this waste she’s developed a new technique of in-situ recycling called Granito. The concept is to “quarry” materials on-site, taking stone from surrounding demolished structures and pulverizing it for use in new aggregates—by reusing these materials on location there’s no need for transportation. An architect at the French firm SCAU, Saint Pierre is putting Granito to the test on one of the office’s Paris projects. Saint Pierre’s proposal is to take 182 tons of unwanted granite panels from the extant structure, an office block also designed by the firm and opened in 1997 as the headquarters of Télédiffusion de France, and grind, sort, and reincorporate the material into terrazzo floors for the new building, a co-working space. Saint Pierre says that the granite and terrazzo floors, visible from the street, will act as “a fifth facade.” In addition to working to create terrazzo, she’s also been using in-situ recycling to create gabion walls, including for a future housing project. Since announcing Granito earlier this year, Saint Pierre has worked to tweak the process to become more energy efficient. “This project highlights the impact that the ever-shortening life of tertiary real estate programs has on the life and death cycle of the materials used,” Saint Pierre said. In this manner, Granito is not just a practical solution, but also a commentary on issues of architectural preservation. “Granito investigates new modes of memory transmission through [the] in-situ transformation of rubble,” she explains. “It’s an alternative to both ‘tabula rasa’ approaches or strict restoration.” Granito, “investigates site-specific loops of remembrance,” and understanding just what “in situ” might mean in this context is key to understanding the purpose of Granito. It’s about “the existing site, its memory, and its mutation.”
The Philharmonie de Paris was infamously over budget and two years behind schedule when it opened in January 2015. Two years later, the Philharmonie issued a $189.5 million fine against Jean Nouvel, the building's Pritzker Prize-winning architect, for his failure to deliver the project on-time and on-budget. Earlier this week, Nouvel filed a lawsuit against his former client claiming that the fines were “unprecedented in the world of architecture” and “totally disproportionate,” according to the Guardian. The project was initially budgeted for $217 million in 2006 but ballooned to $419 million by the time it was complete. The publicly-financed concert hall, which was built in the lower-income and largely-immigrant 19th arrondissement, has meanwhile become synonymous with extravagance and oversight in public works. Nouvel was outspoken about his opposition to the concert hall during its construction, going as far as suing to have his name taken off the project and boycotting the opening. His unsuccessful 2015 lawsuit claimed that building had radically shifted from the original design and that his firm was not responsible for the project nearly doubling in price. Nouvel’s lawyers, William Bourdon and Vincent Brengarth, told the Guardian that the Paris Philharmonie was unreasonably holding Nouvel’s firm, Atelier Jean Nouvel, solely responsible for the delays and budget issues. Nouvel has continuously maintained that the project overran its budget for reasons outside his firm’s control. "I affirm that in no case was I at the origin of any cost overrun on this project. The public report of Cour des Comptes of February 2012 evokes 'poor piloting,' 'many delays related to the fluctuations of the public arbitrations' which 'obviously influenced the cost of the operation,'” he wrote in a statement boycotting the opening of the Paris Philharmonie. "The public report of the French Senate of October 17th, 2012 evokes 'initial underestimated costs' before the launching of the competition and specifies the main reasons of overruns, which have nothing to do with me.”
The Centre Pompidou has announced plans to expand beyond its main campus in central Paris, opting for a new “art factory” space in Massy, Essonne, a southwest suburb. While no architect for the project has been named, the 22,000-square-meter facility is expected to open in 2025. In a statement obtained by The Art Newspaper, Centre Pompidou officials described the new space as “both a center of excellence for the conservation and restoration of the works in the collection, and a new cultural and creative venue deeply rooted in its territory.” It will also feature a 2,500-square-meter facility reserved for live performances, conferences, and screenings, all organized in partnership with various groups. Backed by the French state, among other investors, the art factory curators will collaborate regularly with scholars from the nearby University Paris-Saclay. The existing Centre Pompidou complex houses the Bibliothèque publique d'information (Public Information Library, the IRCAM (Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics and Music), and the Musée National d'Art Moderne, the largest modern art museum in Europe. One of the key elements of the expansion will be the movement of 120,000 works from the latter museum's collection to the new satellite. Reserve works will be partially accessible to visitors, allowing for a new and direct kind of interaction with the museum’s extensive collection. The announcement came as the Centre Pompidou continues to expand. Its David Chipperfield-designed outpost in Shanghai, called Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum, is set to open next month. Another branch, designed by Shigeru Ban Architects, opened in Metz, France, in 2010. The original complex, in the Beaubourg area of central Paris, was completed in 1977. Designed by Renzo Piano, Richard Rodgers, and Gianfranco Franchini, the Centre Pompidou was revered by the 2007 Pritzker jury for “transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city.”
Multidisciplinary artists Gerard & Kelly’s Modern Living is a dance performance that has been presented in a series of famous modern houses, including Philip Johnson’s Glass House, the Schindler House, and Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. This dance troupe cavorts through the spaces of each house to explore, in their words “intimacy and domestic space within legacies of modernist architecture.” There is additionally an emphasis on an exploration of “queer space,” where voyeurism and exhibitionism are uncovered through the interaction between the dancers through the transparency of the rooms they explore. The latest incarnation of Modern Living ran from September 28 through October 6 in Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, completed in 1930 in Poissy, a suburb of Paris. Probably his most famous house, at the time it was an astoundingly radical image of a floating white pavilion elevated on thin columns above the flat lawn below. It is shocking even now, and reminds us of Frank Lloyd Wright’s comment that “human houses should not be like boxes blazing in the sun.” It was a complete rejection of all things Beaux Arts and classical. Where a house was rooted firmly on the ground, this modernist villa hovered above; in place of small windows punched into a wall, it had a continuous horizontal strip of glass; where a gable roof would provide shelter, there is a flat roof terrace of paving and plants. Compared to the excessive ornament of the Beaux Arts, and even contemporary Art Deco interiors such as that of Robert Mallet-Stevens, the Villa Savoye is abstract and stripped bare. The walls are stucco, the only ornament is the occasional highlight of a deeply saturated painted color—architecture is reduced to space, form, and light, the house is essentially as “naked” as the Greek ruins that Le Corbusier admired. Villa Savoye first appeared in Le Corbusier’s’ Complete Works in grainy black and white photos, with barely any furniture inside. The Savoye family only lived there briefly, complaining that it leaked and was uninhabitable. The interior was seen briefly in a black and white film by Pierre Chenal in 1930 along with other Le Corbusier houses and his urban plan for Paris. It was occupied by the Germans, then the Americans in World War II, and was a derelict ruin used as hay barn until its restoration from 1985-97. Since then, it has been a mysteriously empty shell and absent of dance, even though Le Corbusier’s idea was that architecture is activated by the human presence in a “promenade architecturale,” as one walks through and around the forms and spaces of the house. In this sense, Gerard & Kelly have finally brought the Villa Savoye to life, in a choreographed work that is inspired in part by the purported affair of Le Corbusier with the singer and dance sensation of the 1920s Josephine Baker. Aboard an ocean liner from Buenos Aires to France, Le Corbusier met the black, American “chanteuse” who had performed in Paris and drew her nude. The Marilyn Monroe of the 1920s, Baker captivated the imagination of Adolf Loos as well, who designed a striped house for her on a corner in Paris, although there is no evidence she ever asked him to do so. Along with Cubism’s inspiration of African masks and culture as in Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, the perceived exoticism of Baker’s singing and dance had injected new life into these two uptight, polemical architects, certainly at odds with Le Corbusier’s Swiss Calvinist background. Baker went on to aid the French Resistance and became a Civil Rights activist, speaking at Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington. Taking Baker and Le Corbusier as a starting point, Gerard & Kelly’s six dancers glid, slid, sinuously snaked, and danced through the house, beginning at the entry, going up the ramp and spiral stair to the Grand Salon, then up the ramp to the roof terrace. Individually and together, singing and dancing to an insistent drumbeat, they joined to form a conga line through the master bedroom, then back down the ramp to the outside. Alongside the linear activity of the choreography, the dancers alternately formed pairs of male and female, black and white, gay and straight, gesturing to and intertwining with each other in intimate poses in relation to the internal architecture. They sporadically exposed various body parts, baring buttocks and breasts, draping themselves over the seductive curves of the spiral stair, and then outside on the roof terrace. The dance extracted the essence of the architecture as a magic box of possibility, where the audience and stage oscillate back and forth, creating an electrifying and exhilarating experience. Remarkably, at the end of the last performance, after the light rain stopped, a double rainbow emerged, a tribute not only to Gerard & Kelly’s multi-colored queer themes, but recalling da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, inscribed within the circle and square, the ultimate symbol of motion and stasis, and the harmony of architecture and humanity.
“Indecent,” “absurd,” and “unacceptable”—these are a few of the adjectives used by Jean Nouvel and other architects and urban planners to denounce new plans for the Gare du Nord train station renovation in Paris. Proposed by S.N.C.F Gares & Connextions, the expansion of the largest train station in Europe by 1.2 million square feet would focus heavily on duty-free mall-like commercial development targeting suburban R.E.R commuters. While the proposed transformation is not very different from other train station trends, from the Gare Saint-Lazare renovation to London’s Liverpool Street Station, the size and scope of this project have hit a sore spot for the French public. Nouvel and others wrote and signed on to an open letter published in this Tuesday’s edition of Le Monde outlining their objections. As a city that prides itself on the beauty and vivacity of its historic monuments, any alteration on the scale of the Gare du Nord prompts scrutiny, as the city fabric becomes more and more consumer and profit-oriented. Bernard Landau, a former deputy director of urban planning at the city of Paris, told The New York Times that “it all goes into one question. Should we transform all train stations into shopping malls?” The plans were described as “primarily for the daily commuters, the millions of users of the R.E.R. and the suburban trains,” by Claude Solard, chief executive of S.N.C.F. in the same article. Yet these commuters, who reside in the affluent suburbs of Paris, like Versailles, are often hurrying through, going from point A to B—yet the plans were proposed to be beneficial for those who have more time to use the added “amenities.” The extant Gare du Nord has been criticized heavily in the past for its hour-long delays, and passengers won’t be appeased in the face of cancellations by having more boutiques to browse. In addition, opponents to the plan have pointed out that the added shops will increase the pressure suburban malls and retail are already feeling, making it more difficult to attract customers. The open letter is a new chapter in what has been an ongoing debate amongst architects and urban planners in Europe: What should a modern train station look like? A coworking space and fitness facilities are also included in the proposals, which is scheduled to begin construction in early 2020. As the city eyes the 2024 Summer Olympics, the Gare du Nord is poised to be a major player in moving people from the Charles de Gaulle airport as well as around the city to various events, in addition to being the termination point of the international high-speed Eurostar rail service. It is not a radical idea that station planning should be focused on pedestrian flow, efficient movement, and timely departures. While an expansion and modernization of the transit hub is called for, Parisian planners are demanding that the project's priorities should be shifted and that the designers should “rethink from floor to rafters.”
Jeff Koons’s controversial sculpture Bouquet of Tulips was first proposed as a "donation" by the artist in 2016 and has only now found a home near the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Described as a “gift of remembrance” by the artist in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the city in the years of 2015 and 2016, the gargantuan proportions, cost, and proposed core location amongst top Parisian contemporary art institutions mired the project in controversy since its original announcement. Originally, the bouquet was proposed to be installed outside the Palais de Tokyo, a museum location very popular with tourists, with views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. However, the backlash from the public, including a published letter by the French daily newspaper Libération, swayed officials to rethink the plan. The letter listed grievances against the installation, among them arguments that the work was conceptualized as a “symbol of memory, optimism, and recovery,” but without any relation to the tragic events or their location. The 24 signatories, all professionals within the French art and architecture scenes, including a former culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, also cited that while he was a “brilliant and inventive creator in the 1980s, Jeff Koons has since become the emblem of an industrial art,” and that a work placed in an area of such high touristic visibility would amount to “advertising or product placement.” However, other factors like the 33-ton weight of the sculpture, came in to play as well, as the basement below the site may not have been able to withstand the pressure. Koons only donated the concept of the 40-foot-tall sculpture—a hyper-realistic hand holding 11 "balloons" resembling tulip bulbs made from stone, polished stainless steel, bronze, and aluminum—while private donations and foundations financed the actual fabrication and eventual plans for installation. The project cost an estimated $3.5 million, but French taxpayers will be tapped for the sculpture’s protection and maintenance. During the debates over the fate of the gift, the sculpture had been sitting finished in a German warehouse. Installation was only greenlit after a trip by Koons himself to Paris on August 23rd, where in three hours, the artist, his gallerist, Jérôme and Emmanuelle de Noirmont of Noirmontartproduction, and city officials came to the locational compromise. The bouquet is set to be installed by October 5, where it will debut during Paris’ nuit blanche, the citywide annual all-night art event. While photography is strictly prohibited throughout the installation process, two of the bulbs have already been delivered by Arnold, a celebrated German metal fabricator known for its polished metal works—and while that shine is a trademark of the American artist, the new tulips will have a matte finish, “out of respect for the French people.”