Portrait


CHRISTIAN DE PORTZAMPARC

Born in Casablanca in 1944, Christian de Portzamparc is an architect and urban planner. He graduated from the Paris School of Fine Arts in 1969 and set up his agency, the Atelier Christian de Portzamparc, in 1980. In 2010, the agencies of Elizabeth Portzamparc and of Christian de Portzamparc pool their resources, every designer keeping his team and specificity. Based in Paris, France, they build worldwide, working with partners on a wide variety of ambitious international projects.

THE ATELIER

The Atelier Christian de Portzamparc works on construction projects of all sizes together with a wide variety of construction programs. Each project represents a new challenge requiring extensive research and experimentation, from the initial designs to the search for construction solutions.

The Atelier is also an “urban laboratory” that performs in-depth urban and structural analyses, a technique developed by Christian de Portzamparc since the 70’s based on projects “manifestoes“, competitions and studies. This has allowed him to develop his methods and apply theoretical research and analysis principles to a multitude of practical situations.

In his renewed vision of urban structure, which he called the “open block”, his work focuses on research in urban planning and concerns on the quality of collective and individual living spaces.
From singular buildings to rethought urbanism, the city is indeed one of the founding subjects of its work, which at the same time develops around three major themes: buildings that bring together the public as places of culture, music or institutions, landmark buildings such as towers, and parts of the city and neighbourhoods, from the block to the evolution of metropolises in the Greater Paris area for example.

 

LANDMARK BUILDINGS

Landmark buildings often become urban benchmarks or symbols that draw an area together to create the essential marks which the immense urban landscape of metropolises requires.

Based on these large unique objects, landmark buildings, urban poles of attraction, the interior and exterior spaces intersect like the Cidade das Arte in Rio. Completed in 2013 it is a unique concert hall in the world that can be transformed into an opera hall. It houses a theatre, a chamber music and popular music hall, a movie theatre, dance and rehearsal rooms, exhibition spaces, and restaurants.
Since the 80’s, Christian de Portzamparc’s enduring passion for music has led him to enter a series of music and dance-related architectural competitions, including the Paris Opera Ballet School in Nanterre, France (awarded the Equerre d’Argent 1988) and the Cité de la Musique in Paris, France (awarded the Equerre d’Argent 1995), the Philharmonie Luxembourg (International Architecture Award 2008 by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum), or Cidade das Artes in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil (International Architecture Award 2008 by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum, “Grand Prix AFEX 2014 of the French architecture in the world“, awarded by the association French Architects Overseas).

In July 2009, the international competition for the Africa’s largest Theatre New Art which took place saw projects from Zaha Hadid, Franck O. Gerhy, Rem Koolhaas and Aziz Lazrak. The site, the vast Place Mohammed V in Casablanca, was a brainteaser. Portzamparc’s project was to breathe life into this vast institutional square and give a contemporary twist to its classical composition. This winning project – a1,800-seat main hall is designed to host musical concerts, classical theatre plays and various other large-scale performances – gives the impression of being composed of several detached houses, like a medina in the city.

 

In 2011, Bernard Arnault commissioned Christian de Portzamparc with the construction of a Dior flagship store in the elegant neighborhood of Cheongdam-dong, on Apgujeong Avenue in Seoul. Inspired by the haute couture creation of this famous house, the building is a manifesto with white curves undulating toward the sky in a subtle dissymmetry that evokes the cloth at the genesis of every couture piece (International Architecture Award 2016 for the best new global design awarded by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum).

Inaugurated in October 2017, the “U Arena” is an “indoor” stadium and the ground of the “Racing-Metro 92” rugby team, in the Hauts-de-Seine region. A French sporting legend since 1882, the club was taken over in 2006 by its current president Jacky Lorenzetti. The stadium is also being used as a large performance space accommodating 10,000 to 40,000 people. It is the largest indoor multipurpose facility with a variable capacity in France. Located in the town of Nanterre, close to the “Grande Arche” in La Défense, this project falls within the scope of the “Seine-Arche operation of national interest” – the status accorded by the State to territorial projects which are aligned with national strategies and objectives.

In 2013, Christian de Portzamparc is commissioned by the city to design the Suzhou Cultural Center. It is one of a series of prestigious projects as part of the Wujiang Lakefront Masterplan. As the flagship project of this brand-new locality, the city is developing a remarkable site of over 100,000 sq.m. It lies at the convergence of one of China’s most beautiful lakes and the major urban perspective of the new city.

NEIGHBOURHOODS AND CITY DISTRICTS

Neighbourhoods and city districts are central to Christian de Portzamparc’s practical and intellectual contribution to the current architectural debate. Recognizing the central importance of the infinitely subtle human context, in which local conditions are “grist to his mill”, his interventions operate at a number of different levels, both as an architect in the purist sense and as an urban planner.

THE TOWERS

From the city to the object, Christian de Portzamparc has worked on towers since his first projects in 1974, when he designed a water tower covered with vegetation, which became a poetic landmark for a new city in Marne-la-Vallée, France, followed in 1991 by the Lille Tower, a unique, sculptural object built over a railway station in Rem Koolhaas’s “Euralille” district (completed in 1995).

The towers created by Christian de Portzamparc are the fruit of his research into vertical volume and its sculptural dimension, which he has crystalized into his characteristic prismatic forms.
His best known tower is the LVMH Tower in New York, USA, completed in 1999 (Business Week and Architectural Record award 2006), followed by the competition for the Hearst tower in 2000 and soon to be accompanied by the residential tower, Prism on Park Avenue in Manhattan, New York, USA, approved by the City Planning authorities in 2004, which was opened in late May 2015. And completed in 2014, with its 300 meters high, the One57 tower in New York is hosting a luxury hotel occupies the first 20 floors and 130 super-luxury condominiums in co-ownership, among which some offer breathtaking views of Central Park and the “skyline” of the city.

Currently under study are two towers in Paris-La Défense including offices and a hotel complex, the Sisters towers, scheduled for delivery in 2022.

The 603-feet high headquarters of French bank Société Générale at La Défense district in Paris, the Granite Tower (completed in 2008) is the first sustainable high-rise building in France (H.E.Q. certified, the French equivalent of the North American LEED).

In 1994, Christian de Portzamparc became the first French architect to gain the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize at the age of 50.

The most prestigious city planning prize in France, Grand Prix de l’Urbanisme, was awarded to him in 2004.

He has been made “Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres”, “Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite” and “Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur”, and was awarded the “Grand Prix d’Architecture de la Ville de Paris” in 1990, the “Médaille d’Argent” in 1992 and the “Grand Prix National d’Architecture” in 1998. He has also been appointed an Honorory Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (A.I.A.). The most prestigious city planning prize in France, “Grand Prix de l’Urbanisme”, was awarded to him in 2004.

In 2006, the “Collège de France” created a 53rd chair dedicated to “artistic creation”, Christian de Portzamparc was its first holder.