Friday, April 6, 2012

Paris Architecture

The familiar architectural features of Paris, along with its signature structures, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe, still draw hordes of tourists to the city.  Most of these features are surprisingly modern, having been commissioned by Napoleon III in a vast program of modernization, and carried out by Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann between 1853 and 1870, though some work continued to 1900.  Haussmann's plan created an urban city of wide, straight boulevards with buildings of uniform height and design that are still admired today.  

Haussman buildings with stores below and apartments above fronting onto the street rue St. Germain.

 Rue St. Germain on the rive gauche, looking east.  Our apartment on rue Dauphine is a little northwest of this area.

The Louvre, built beginning in the Middle Ages and expanded over the years, once served as the residence of kings and now serves as one of the world's largest and most visited art museums.  The I. M. Pei Pyramid, added in 1989, was the source of great controversy with its profoundly modern appearance.  Pei designed the Pyramid to serve as the main entrance to the three major wings of the Louvre and to manage the large numbers of visitors the museum hosts every day.

A view from the reception area up through the glass of the Pyramid to the Richeleau wing...

The inside facade of the Richelieu wing.  The arches are the passageway from the courtyard of the Louvre to rue de Rivoli

The south wall of the Denon wing of the Louvre along the Quai du Louvre...

The great beaux arte Grand Palais was built for the 1900 World Fair using the new processes of building with iron and glass developed during the Industrial Revolution.  The competition to choose the architect was fierce and controversial, and ultimately resulted in the contract being awarded to a group of four architects, Henri Deglane, Albert Louvet, Albert Thomas and Charles Girault.  Today it continues to host temporary art exhibitions. 

Some of the private homes in the city were a bit more palatial.  This was the home of Auguste Rodin, now a museum featuring his sculpture in both the house and garden.

The Pompidou is the brainchild of President Georges Pompidou, who wanted to create an original and modern cultural institution in the heart of Paris.  Designed by architects Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Gianfranco Franchini, and assisted by Ove Arup & Partners, the Pompidou is the largest modern art museum in France and Europe.  It is a place where the visual arts rub shoulders with music, theatre, cinema, literature and the spoken word.  Containing art created after 1850, it continues chronologically where the Louvre ends.

The Institute of France, just a few blocks northwest of our apartment, contains the five major French academies, one of which is the Academie des beaux-arts, created in 1816 as the merger of the Académie de peinture et de sculpture (Academy of Painting and Sculpture, founded 1648), the Académie de musique (Academy of Music, founded in 1669) and the Académie d'architecture (Academy of Architecture, founded in 1671).  The semicircular building was built by the architect Le Vau during the 17th century in accordance with the architecture of the Louvre on the opposite bank.
The building is recognizable by its central chapel crowned by a dome that bears Mazarin's coat of arms.  It is framed by two rounded wings and flanked by two identical square pavilions.

The d'Orsay Museum is located in the centre of Paris on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens.  It is installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. 
As the 20th century trains outgrew their platforms, the station closed in 1939.  After a brief period of military engagement at the end of World War II, the station fell into disuse.  In the 1970’s a movement began to restore and preserve the magnificent building, designating it a historic monument in 1978.
Today’s Musée was opened in 1986, after President Valery Giscard’s authorized renovations overseen by the French architecture firm Philippon, Colboc, and Bardon, and Italian Gae Aulenti.
The d'Orsay is probably best known for its extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces (the largest in the world) by such painters such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh.

Marie de Medici, widow of Henry IV and weary of living in the Louvre palace, began construction of a new home, the Luxembourg Palace.  Queen Marie wanted the palace to resemble the Pitti Palace of her girlhood home, Florence, Italy.  To this end she had the main architect Salomon de Brosse send architect Clément Metézeau‎ to Florence to obtain drawings.  In the end, however, the features of the palace became much more French in style.  The Luxembourg now serves as the seat of the French Senate.

Sacre-Coeur Basilica was begun in 1876 on the Montmartre Butte, the highest point in Paris.  The group of influential people who initiated the project had pledged to build the church if Paris was spared destruction by the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.  The winner of the competition was Paul Abadie, who had already restored two cathedrals in France. He designed an immense basilica in a Roman-Byzantyne style. This architectural style stands in sharp contrast with other contemporary buildings in France, which were mostly built in a Romanesque style.

The view of Paris looking south from Montmartre, home of many artists since 1870, including a number of the Impressionists.

In 1670 King Louis XIV decided to erect the Invalides as a hospice for wounded soldiers.  Later, under Napoleon I, it became the pantheon of French military glories and subsequently the burial site of many French war heroes, including Napoleon Bonaparte himself.  It houses the Military Museum of the Army of France.

The great royal church on the site, known as the Dome Church, was completed in 1706.  Inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture.  195 feet in height, the Dome is a major Paris reference point.

The Dome Church

The Hotel de Ville, the city hall of Paris, is located on the site of the Paris civic municipality since 1357.  In 1533, King Francis I decided to endow the city with a city hall which would be worthy of Paris, then the largest city of Europe and Christendom. He appointed two architects: Italian Dominique de Cortone, nicknamed Boccador because of his red beard, and Frenchman Pierre Chambiges. The House of Pillars was torn down and Boccador, steeped in the spirit of the Renaissance, drew up the plans of a building which was to be at the same time tall, spacious, full of light and refined. Building work was not finished until 1628 during the reign of Louis XIII.

This view of the Hotel de Ville is from the roof of the Pompidou Center.

The Bazar of the Hotel de Ville where Parisians shop for everything, including the kitchen sink!

Notre Dame de Paris is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in France and in Europe, and the naturalism of its sculptures and stained glass are in contrast with earlier Romanesque architecture.  Over the construction period, numerous architects worked on the site, as is evidenced by the differing styles at different heights of the west front and towers. Between 1210 and 1220, the fourth architect oversaw the construction of the level with the rose window and the great halls beneath the towers.  The most significant change in design came in the mid 13th century, when the transepts were remodeled in the latest Rayonnant style; in the late 1240s Jean de Chelles added a gabled portal to the north transept topped off by the spectacular rose window.

The Cathedral is located on the east end of the Ile de Cite, the site of the founding of Paris.  Begun in 1163 it was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress for external support of the sanctuary.

The Church of St. Genevieve was commissioned by King Louis XV, grateful for his recovery from a serious illness in 1744.  Construction was actually begun in 1758.  It is an early example of neoclassicism, with a façade modeled on the Pantheon in Rome, surmounted by a dome that owes some of its character to Bramante's "Tempietto"

Subsequent to the revolutionary changes in France, the Pantheon now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens.  The Pantheon is located in the Latin Quarter, the 5th arrondissement, near the Sorbonne, the University of Paris.

The south gate of the spectacular Place des Vosges in the Marais district, one of the most original, quintessential parts of Paris still remaining.  Originally known as the Place Royale, the Place des Vosges was built by Henri IV from 1605 to 1612.  Though they are designated the Pavilion of the King and of the Queen, no royal personage has ever lived in the aristocratic square. The Place des Vosges initiated subsequent developments of Paris that created a suitable urban background for the French aristocracy.  A true square (140 m x 140 m), the Place des Vosges embodied the first European program of royal city planning.   Inaugurated in 1612 with a grand carrousel to celebrate the wedding of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, it is the prototype of all the residential squares of European cities that were to come. 

The financier Mesme Gallet built the Hôtel Sully with its gardens and orangery between 1625 and 1630.  The building, designed by the architect Jean Androuet du Cerceau is located on a site chosen to give access to the Place Royale - today the Place des Vosges.

Napoleon's column in the Place Vendome (perhaps the most expensive and upscale shopping area in Paris).  The column, inspired by Emperor Trajan's column in Rome, records Napoleon's Grand Armee's war campaigns and victories.  The column was designed by Lepère and Gondoin and received many different names - first the 'Austerlitz Column', then the 'Victory Column,' then  finally becoming the 'Colonne de la Grande Armée'.  Lepère supervised the melting down of the 1200 artillery pieces taken from the Russians and Austrians to provide the primary material for the construction of the column. The following inscription was engraved on the abacus of the capital: 'Monument erected to the glory of Napoleon the Great's Grande Armée, begun on 25 August 1806 and finished 15 August 1810'.

The church of St. Germain de Pres was built in 1163.  It is the successor of an original Benedictine church built on this site in 452.

The steeple of the American Church in Paris, located west of the d'Orsay Museum and near the Eiffel Tower on the quai d'Orsay facing the Seine.  The construction of the sanctuary on Quai d’Orsay was begun 1 March 1926, and was dedicated 6 September 1931.

The sanctuary is divided into three parts: the narthex (entryway), the nave (with the pews) and the chancel (the front of the church). The design of the sanctuary is based on a 15th century Gothic plan, including the central aisle flanked by two cloister side aisles. The main level of the sanctuary can accommodate approximately 600 people, with additional seating for 100 in the balcony above the narthex.

The Eiffel Tower seen from the Trocadero Square, a large plaza located on the hill of the former village of Chaillot overlooking the Seine with a view of the Eiffel Tower on the south bank.  The square was originally the site of the Palais du Trocadero, built for the 1878 World Fair.  For the Exposition Internationale of 1937, the old Palais du Trocadéro was demolished and replaced by the Palais de Chaillot which now tops the hill. It was designed in classicizing "moderne" style by architects Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, Jacques Carlu and Léon Azéma. Like the old palais, the palais de Chaillot features two wings shaped to form a wide arc and built on the foundations of those of the former building.   However, unlike the old palais, the wings are independent buildings and there is no central element to connect them: instead, a wide esplanade leaves an open view from the place du Trocadéro to the Eiffel Tower and beyond.

The Trocadero Gardens lead from the Square down to the Seine.

Though we haven't included many other architectural features of Paris, such as the Arc de Triomphe or the Opera Garnier (the location of "The Phantom of the Opera!), perhaps we should conclude with a closeup of the architectural marvel created by Gustav Eiffel and his company for the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition.  Built in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, Eiffel's Tower has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-story building. During its construction, it surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. The tower remains the tallest building in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. Perhaps the most easily recognized and beloved of all Paris monuments, it was greatly disliked at the time of its origin, forcing Eiffel to agree to the demolition of his tower the year following the Exposition.  Fortunately for its millions of contemporary visitors, Parisians had a change of mind!

No comments:

Post a Comment