My piece on Seine Rive Gauche, billed as the largest urban project in Paris since Haussmann, generated a great deal of interest. This week I return to the area to check up on progress, and find development continuing along the whole length of the site.
This project is mobilizing considerable resources and is calling on France’s best architecture and urban design talents. Whatever one things of the design choices, it certainly represents a return to the spirit of urban ambition that made Paris what it is.
At the entrance to the site, coming from the center of Paris, lies the Gare d’Austerlitz. The vision for this station, which has long been a bit forlorn, is to turn it into a vibrant hub of urban activity – the comparison that keeps coming up is the new Saint Pancras station in London.
We now see the first premises of the project for the new Gare d’Austerlitz, designed by Jean Nouvel and Jean-Marie Duthilleul. The wing of the station toward the Seine is now gone; its place will be taken by an elaborate new glass canopy forming a connection with pathway along the river.
On the strip of land in blue on the map above, along the Avenue Pierre Mendes-France, one can see work progressing on the buildings to the south-west of the avenue coordinated by Reichen & Robert. These buildings are slated to be occupied in 2015. They include the building by up-and-coming Parisian firm Brenac + Gonzalez shown below.
As one continues down the Avenue de France, the left side, the orange section in the map above where the Bibliothèque François Mitterand stands, is completed. But on the right, down toward the Rue de Tolbiac, construction has been progressing rapidly. A new building has risen in what used to be the open space above the railway tracks. Along the Rue de Chevaleret we can see the split-level treatment between the old and the new city, with the terrace garden in the course of being planted.
The large zone at the south of the site is the biggest area of new construction, at right in the map below. We see how the Avenue de France will end in a triangle at the point where it crosses the Boulevard Masséna, and how Yves Lion’s plan seeks to incorporate the périphérique highway and preserve links to Ivry, which lies to the right of the map.
This, the point of the site furthest away from the center of Paris, is the area where the new tower designed by Jean Nouvel will be built.