This spring’s studio was a self-interested stroke of genius that I’m proud to say I shared with Lee Cagley, Chair of our Interior Design department. After two years of dealing with traffic and mis-directions in Panama (one of two places where you can–easily–make a wrong turn and end up on the wrong continent), Lee mentioned to me that he usually takes a group of students to Maison Objet, one of the largest design trade shows on the planet, every January. That’s in Paris, not Panama, and it took us about a second and a half to figure out that Paris would be logistically simpler. So we found a site about 300m from the Eiffel Tower, a hotel close to that, and spent a week with the better part of our mixed interiors/architecture/landscape studio there in January.
Our final review took place earlier this month, and the results showed a pretty inspired group. We asked them to place a 500-room hotel that straddled convention and tourism functions, to relate to the Tower in its siting and in the experiences of its public and private spaces, and to fit into what proved to be a nicely challenging site–adjacent to Nervi and Seidler’s Australian Embassy but in a mixed neighborhood, Grenelle, that includes residential, commercial, entertainment, and tourism functions in a mid-rise scale urban fabric. The site itself, now occupied by an athletics ground and an aging gymnasium, seems ripe for reconsideration and redevelopment–the former site of rail yards that brought the pieces of the Tower into the city, so resonant for all kinds of reasons.
I’ll let the work speak for itself–an inspired, and inspiring, group, and thoughtful but also provocative work…Hire these folks!