Thursday, January 31, 2008

Architect as Tour Guide

Jean-Paul Viguier spent most of our two days in Paris taking us on guided tours of several of his projects, starting with an urban park set along the Seine. Parc André Citröen encompasses about 35 acres in the 15th arrondissement at the western edge of the city.

Shown here from the far left are Frédérique Chiffard, an architect with Viguier's office; Alastair Gordon, who writes for Architectural Digest, Town & Country, and The New York Times; Jean-Paul Viguier; Suzanne Stephens, deputy editor of Architectural Record; Edward M. Gomez of Art & Antiques; and Anya Eckbo of  Architectural Digest Mexico & Latin America.

After strolling through the park, we saw Viguier's headquarters for France Télévisions, a large and compact wedge-shaped building that houses the offices for three state-owned TV stations.

Like the television headquarters, most of the Viguier buildings we viewed were solid bastions of corporate prestige and authority. Their exteriors of metal and glass and polished stone reflected the dull winter skies, causing their bulk to almost disappear into a uniformly gray cityscape. Coeur Defense, (the towers shown here) designed for Tanagra/Unibail in the La Defense district, is an example.

But two other projects stood out as being more tactile and human-scaled. The first was a relatively small industrial building called Metropole 19 built in 1987. Note the Roman brick in a red color reminiscent of my earlier entry on Toulouse, which, if I heard correctly, is the home base for Viguier's client. 

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