Top Ten Essential Architecture top ten Paris Libraries & Galleries  
     
  For a more complete list, see Paris Main List  
Libraries    
1 Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve  
pa002-ste_genevieve.jpg (59333 bytes)

architect

Henri Labrouste

location

Paris, France

date

1843 designed, built 1845 to 1851

style

Italian Renaissance Revival

construction

masonry and iron spans- Labrouste's use of industrial materials, such as cast iron columns, as prominent features in the reading room of this library, generated controversy, because conventional thought at the time equated such important building types with dressed stone and other traditional high-end materials.

type

Library

One of the greatest cultural buildings of the nineteenth century to use iron in a prominent, visible way was unquestionably the Bibliotheque Ste.-Genevieve in Paris, designed by Henri Labrouste and built in 1842-50. The large (278 by 69 feet) two-storied structure filling a wide, shallow site is deceptively simple in scheme: the lower floor is occupied by stacks to the left, rare-book storage and office space to the right, with a central vestibule and stairway leading to the reading room which fills the entire upper story. The ferrous structure of this reading room—a spine of slender, cast-iron Ionic columns dividing the space into twin aisles and supporting openwork iron arches that carry barrel vaults of plaster reinforced by iron mesh—has always been revered by Modernists for its introduction of high technology into a monumental building.
 
     
2 Bibliotheque Nationale (old)  
pa003a.jpg (58371 bytes)

architect

Henri Labrouste

location

Quai Francois-Mauriac 75013.  Paris, France

date

1862 to 1868

style

NeoClassical

construction

masonry, iron columns, terra cotta vaults, truss roof 

type

Library

The National Library of France traces its origin to the royal library founded at the Louvre by Charles V in 1368. It expanded under Louis XIV and opened to the public in 1692. The library's collections swelled to over 300,000 volumes during the radical phase of the French Revolution when the private libraries of aristocrats and clergy were seized. By an act of the revolutionary French National Assembly, the Library became the first free public library in the world in 1793.

Following the series of regime changes in France, it became the Imperial National Library and in 1868 was moved to newly constructed buildings on the rue de Richelieu designed by Henri Labrouste.
 
     
3 Bibliothèque nationale de France (new)  

architect

Dominique Perrault

location

Paris, France (located near the metro station: Bibliothèque François Mitterrand).

date

1996

style

Modern

construction

steel, glass, concrete frame

type

Library

On 14 July 1988, François Mitterrand announced the construction and the expansion of one of the largest and most modern libraries in the world, intended to cover all fields of knowledge, and designed to be accessible to all, using the most modern data transfer technologies, which could be consulted from a distance, and which would collaborate with other European libraries. Surprisingly, the library does not maintain a wireless network. In July 1989, the services of the architectural firm of Dominique Perrault were retained. The construction was carried out by Bouygues. After the move of the major collections from the rue de Richelieu, the National Library of France opened to the public on 20 December 1996. It contains more than ten million volumes. Those who work in it are not happy with the extremely long distances they have to walk to reach basic functions. It also features a landscaped garden pit at its center that cannot be enjoyed except with one's eyes, and several of the trees need to be supported with rope to prevent them from falling.
 
Galleries    
4 Musée du Louvre  
I.M. Pei's Louvre Pyramid: one of the entrances to the galleries lies below the glass pyramid.

architect

original-Pierre Lescot and J. A. du Cerceau
second wing- Visconti and Hector Lefuel
pyramid- I. M. Pei

location

36, Quai du Louvre, 75001 Paris, France.

date

1546, 1876, 1989

style

original- Loire Chateau French Renaissance
current- Second Empire Baroque Revival

construction

stone

type

Palace, Gallery

getting there

get off at metro stations: Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre or Louvre Rivoli. 

The Louvre Museum (Musée du Louvre), in Paris, France, is one of the largest and most famous museums in the world. The building, a former royal palace, lies in the centre of Paris, between the Seine river and the Rue de Rivoli. Its central courtyard, now occupied by the Louvre Pyramid, lies in the axis of the Champs-Élysées, and thus forms the nucleus from which the Axe historique springs. Part of the royal Palace of the Louvre was first opened to the public as a museum on November 8, 1793, during the French Revolution.
 
     
5 La Pyramide Inversée  
Louvre-inversee.jpg (24419 bytes)

architect

I. M. Pei

location

Address: Cour Napoleon, 75001 Paris, France. 
Telephone: 40.20.50.50 

date

1989

style

Modern

construction

glass and steel

type

Gallery

La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid) is a skylight constructed in an underground shopping mall in front of the Louvre Museum in France. It may be thought of as a smaller sibling of the more famous Louvre Pyramid proper, yet turned "upside down": its upturned base is easily overlooked from outside.
 
     
6 Fondation Cartier  

architect

Jean Nouvel

location

261 Boulevard Raspail, 14th.

date

1993

style

High-Tech Modern

construction

glass and steel facade

type

Gallery

Jean Nouvel is the supernova of Paris architecture stars; an entire show at the Pompidou was devoted to him in 2002, and he is responsible for the popular Tour Sans Fin in La Defense (which isn’t actually endless, only 100 stories high.) Nouvel was the main architect of the brilliant Institut du Monde Arabe, and expectations are high for his latest Paris project, the Musée des Arts Premiers, opening in 2004 on Quai Branly near the Eiffel Tower. Until this new museum is finished, you can best appreciate Nouvel’s vision at one of his older buildings, the Fondation Cartier. Here on Boulevard Raspail is the essence of Nouvel’s vision. Relying on new types of glass and support structures, the Fondation building is transparent, emphasizing its natural surroundings. The site was once the home of French writer Chateaubriand, who planted a tree in the yard. Nouvel managed to design the new building around the tree, to preserve the living link to the past. Nouvel is part of an international trend away from the purist manipulation of space, towards a crucial focus on building materials. Just as Haussmann’s Paris was defined by its golden “pierre de Paris stone,” and mid-20th-century Paris was defined by gradual discoveries using reinforced concrete, Nouvel reveals the most recent incarnation of Paris by using glass to reinterpret the City of Light.
 
     
7 Musee d'Orsay  
020B.jpg (64231 bytes)

architect

Gae Aulenti 

location

1 rue de Bellechasse, Rue de Lille, 75343 telephone 45.49.48.14. (near Musée d'Orsay RER line C station)

date

1980 to 1987

style

Beaux-Arts Modern

construction

masonry, vaulted glass and steel roof

type

Utility, Museum

The Musée d'Orsay is a museum in Paris on the left bank of the Seine near Musée d'Orsay RER line C station. It holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. Many of these works were held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume up to 1986.
 
     
8 Musée Rodin  

architect

commissioned by Abraham Peyrenc de Moras and designed by Jean Aubert and Jacques V. Gabriel 

location

77, rue de Varenne near the Varenne Metro station

date

1727 to 1732

style

NeoClassical

construction

masonry

type

House

There are two good reasons to visit this hôtel: it is one of the most beautiful in Paris, and it is devoted to the sculptor Auguste Rodin. The financier Abraham Peyrence de Moras, enriched by the speculations of the banker John Law, built this residence, his third in Paris. It was later purchased in secession by the duchesse du Maine and the maréchal de Biron (1753) and came to be known as the Hôtel de Biron. From 1828 to 1902, it served as a residence for young girls; the chapel on the rue de Varenne dates from this period. In 1904, the French state became the owner and began to rent portions of it to artists. Rodin resided here from 1908 until his death in 1917. Since he bequeathed all the work then in his possession to the government, the state chose to restore the hôtel and transform it into the Musée Rodin. Several of the artist's larger works on are display in the gardens, which have also been restored.
 
     
9 Centre Pompidou  
005A.jpg (88039 bytes)

architect

Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano

location

Place Georges Pompendeau, telephone: 01-44-78-12-33. (get off at metro stations: Rambuteau or Les Halles. RER Châtelet - Les Halles) 

date

1972 to 1976

style

High-Tech Modern structural expressionist

construction

exoskeleton

type

Gallery

The Centre Georges Pompidou (constructed 1971–1977 and known as the Pompidou Centre in English) is a building in the Beaubourg area of the IVe arrondissement of Paris, near Les Halles and the Marais. Designed by Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Gianfranco Franchini, it houses the Bibliothèque publique d'information, a vast public library, and the Musée National d'Art Moderne. Because of its location, the Centre is known locally as Beaubourg.