Sarkozy Invites Top Architects to Help Shape Presidential Legacy

Sep 15, 2007 Full story:

“It's great that President Sarkozy is continuing the French tradition of being directly involved in improving the quality of the built environment.”

Leader invites world's best to museum opening Speculation centres on Ile Seguin in the Seine His critics dismiss him as a philistine who watches American blockbusters, listens to Elvis on his i pod while ... via

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Since: Aug 07

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#1 Sep 15, 2007
So, like his predecessors, Nicolas Sarkozy is going to succumb to vanity and have a piece of architecture built to mark his epoch.

He shouldn't bother: previous attempts have ended in failure and blotted France landscape.

The Pompidou Centre, right in the middle of Paris, looks like it has been designed (designed?) by a manic plumber during a hangover. Heralded as a cultural centre, there is no culture to be seen in or out of the building.

The Louvre glass pyramid is completely out of tune with the rest of the museum building and sticks out like a wart in the middle of it.

The Arche de la Defense owes everything to structural engineering and nothing to architecture. It's about as attractive as a shoebox on its side.

So, I have the utmost reservation about Mr Sarkozy's intention. Most of the time, these projects are farmed out to foreign architects instead of making use of indigenous talents.

One can understand why foreign architects jump at the opportunity; for many, it's a unique chance to inflict on France the kind of atrocity they wouldn't be allowed to build in their own country! Some sweet revenge against France that always claims to be the referee of good tastes.

One is puzled by France's desire to create new buidings, when they are so inept in maintaining old ones.

A few years ago, I took a party of Japanese clients to visit Versailles. To my dismay after the entry tickets were purchased, we found that the gardens were neglected and full of weeds, the fountains were not working, most of the statues outside had been removed or were shrouded in plastic sheeting.

Inside, visitors were rudely hushered along, there was a constant mouldy smell, the noise of building work in progress made conversation impossible and the Mirror Gallery (the object of our visit!) was barred to the public without further explanation.

My visitors were obviously disappointed, but not as much as I was embarrassed of this poor show of what many consider the showpiece of my country!

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