Image credit Wikipedia
Urban renewal and restoration is tough, even in vibrant, successful cities (or perhaps, particularly in vibrant cities). The Samaritaine Store in Paris has been boarded up for years, while people waited to learn what would happen to this gorgeous landmark. When I was first in Paris on my architectural grand tour many years ago I was staying nearby, and would go to the roof of the store every morning for a café créme and a croissant. There was a circular diorama built into the round handrail, where you could identify all the landmarks in Paris- from 1933, when the fabulous art deco portion of the complex was completed. It was my favourite spot in the city.
Now, Japanese architects SANAA are doing what looks like a stunning and sensitive renovation and restoration, blending the old and new.
Images credit SANAA
According to Archdaily,
The architectural concept for the project expresses above all the ambition to restore the La Samaritaine, recognizing the significance of the building and the role the restoration will play in the revitalization of the neighborhood as a whole.
Retail conglomerate LVMH Group has chosen Paris to be the home of the first spin-off property of its luxury Cheval Blanc hotel in Courchevel 1850, France, according to HVS. LVMH Group plans to invest €450 million (US$643.2 million) in renovating the La Samaritaine building, a former department store along the River Seine that closed in 2005. The 142-year-old building will be transformed into a mixed-use complex including the 80-room Cheval Blanc hotel. Construction of the project is expected to start next year and will be completed in 2014.
In his book The Triumph of the City, Edward Glaeser tells us to "remember that the real city is made of flesh, not concrete." I extend an invitation to the Professor, to share a café créme on the roof of La Samaritaine in 2014, where he can eat his words with his croissant. Buildings, and history and heritage, do matter.
UPDATE: More images on Designboom.
More on Paris:
Newly Freed from Height Limits, Paris Skyline Ready to Rise