Many people, especially those who knew the old market pavilions designed by Victor Baltard in the 1850s, have affection for the site of Les Halles. For thirty years, the site has been occupied by a hideous shopping center of reflective glass. Now, that page is being turned.
It may be difficult to believe that anyone is working during this month of August, but as Le Parisien reports, the structural demolition of the Forum des Halles shopping center has begun in the last few days. Over the coming months, the futuristic umbrella-themed structures designed in the late 1970s will be coming down. Few will miss them.
The project for what will replace the building already has a long history. An architectural competition was held in 2004, but in the end its results were only used to determine the general lay-out. In 2007 another competition was held and won by Patrick Berger and Jacques Anziutti.
That project that will soon be built. It has a huge canopy floating above the shopping center, allowing a view east-west through to the park and allowing all sorts of flows of people in different directions. The architecture is sober, as we are accustomed to seeing from Berger, one of the very best architects operating in France today. The new Les Halles promises to be quite spectacular – we hope, something much more worthy of Baltard.
There is a nifty video showing simulations of what we will experience in the new structure visible at Les Halles, voyage au coeur du Paris de demain.