Friday, February 23, 2018

Herzog & de Meuron attacks Paris

Image result for Anne Hidalgo on a bicycle
Anne Hidalgo: Mayor of Paris

The Architectural Sacking of Paris
by Claire Berlinksi

In 2014, Anne Hidalgo, protégée of Paris’s socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë, ran for his office, giving rise to her nickname, La Dauphine—“the heiress.” Her conservative rival, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, became known as “the harpist,” after an unfortunate photo shoot in Paris Match, in which she posed gravid on a forest floor, like a woodland nymph, next to a harp twice her size. 

Both candidates promised to reinvigorate Paris as a dynamic rival to London, rectify housing shortages, and cure the city of air pollution. Both invoked as talismans the words “sustainable” and “ecological.” The campaign was notable for its cattiness. No matter who won, people said, the answer to the question, “What’s thin, Green, and French?” would be “the mayor of Paris.”

Polls show that 62 percent of Parisians agree with NKM about skyscrapers. So does UNESCO, whose assistant director-general for culture, Francesco Bandarin, has implored the city to reject Hidalgo’s vision. “If Paris wishes to be considered as a city with historical value and a heritage context, it should not do this,” Bandarin says. “This is a very bad idea.”

But Hidalgo won. NKM struck too many as an ice princess, out of touch with their concerns. An effort, for example, to project herself as a woman of the people resulted in a photograph of her using the city’s low-cost, eco-friendly bike-sharing service—with a $2,700 Bottega Veneta handbag in the bike’s basket.

Neighborhood residents violently oppose Herzog and de Meuron’s Triangle Tower, a proposed skyscraper that will be built in the 15th arrondissement. (JOEL SAGET/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

And so Mayor Hidalgo’s first high-rise, the Triangle Tower, will be built in the 15th arrondissement. Shaped like an enormous, flattened pyramid, it will challenge the Eiffel Tower for dominance of the skyline. Neighborhood residents violently oppose it. 

The project’s Swiss architects, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, are thrilled. “This evocation of the urban fabric of Paris,” they offer, “at once classic and coherent in its entirety and varied and intriguing in its details, is encountered in the facade of the Triangle. Like a classical building, this one features two levels of interpretation: an easily recognizable overall form; and a fine, crystalline silhouette of its facade, which allows it to be perceived variously.”

Like so much else written about new architecture, this is nonsense. The building does not evoke the urban fabric of Paris. To the contrary, as NKM correctly observed, the urban fabric of Paris is low and classical. The triangle is neither a classical building nor is it “like one”; it is antithetical in shape, scale, proportion, texture, material, and ornament to the principles of classical architecture, to say nothing of height. Not one such structure existed in antiquity. 

Nor do classical buildings feature “two levels of interpretation.” Nor do they have fine, crystalline silhouettes—nor, in fact, will the Triangle: in the architects’ depictions, it resembles a wedge of gray cheese.

Hidalgo invited architects to submit additional plans to “reinvent” the capital in what she described as an “urban experiment of unprecedented magnitude.” Many of the winning projects share a similar aesthetic: they call to mind glowing egg cartons, or bathtubs, improbably sprouting fern fronds. The best that may be said of the designs is that they are thin, Green, and French.

Times change, it’s true, and cities need renewal and modernization. But it should be possible to do this without compromising a city’s beauty...

Rob's comment:
Speaking of trashing Paris, the United States is trying to do its part. See Paris: 'Please Do Not Give Us This Jeff Koons Sculpture'

Mayor Hidalgo, Jeff Koons, Ambassador Hartley

Recall that Herzog
& de Meuron designed the hideous de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. See The emperor is wearing a copper sheath and Mix-up at Herzog & de Meuron.

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President Donald Trump holds notes during a listening session with high school students and teachers in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. Trump  heard the stories of students and parents affected by school shootings, following last week's deadly shooting in Florida. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Getty Images

On the other side, it says "Try not to be such an asshole."

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Matt Davies

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