Stephane Kirkland at the National Gallery of Art

I was honored to have the opportunity to speak last week at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

In connection with the wonderful exhibition Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris, I was invited to a join an impressive selection of scholars to take part in a day-long symposium, Old Topographics: Photography and Urbanization in Nineteenth Century Paris. I chose to speak on the Place Saint-Michel as an example of Second Empire Parisian urbanism.

Continue reading

Auguste Perret’s Franciscan Chapel in Arcueil

With this year’s Heritage Days fast upon us, here is a post on one of the buildings I visited during last year’s event: the Franciscan chapel in Arcueil designed by Auguste Perret.

Hidden away and, in all appearance, a humble structure, this is a building that reveals itself on closer examination to be a marvel of simplicity and elegant logic, a true architectural lesson.

Continue reading

Paris Bookshops

Paris’s identity is deeply rooted in the fact that it is a literary city. Since the days of Villon and Du Beslay, the art of the word has had a special place in this city.

The craft of writing benefits from a special aura here, a spirit that has fostered the development of generations of French talent and attracted wave after wave of foreigners.

This in turn has led the city to be particularly frequently and fondly treated in the world of letters, which has helped to forge the extraordinarily unique and powerful collective unconscious of what Paris represents, to further the myth of this Parnassus on the Seine.

Continue reading

The Cities We Leave to Future Generations

After a period of spurning our cities, we are again becoming an urban nation.

For years, investments in highways, malls, and residential developments were focused on the suburbs. The infrastructure of America’s great historical cities, so often mired in fiscal difficulty, was left to decay.

Today we are seeing a resurgence of the urban spirit. We have woken again to the social benefits of city life. We appreciate the exchange and innovation, the cultural vibrancy, and the economic and environmental benefits of compact living. Large-scale development projects are underway in the city centers and city governments are again spending on urban infrastructure.

Continue reading