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. Based in Paris, France, the Atelier is a global operation with a close-knit team of 100 employees who enjoy positive working relationships with established partners around the world. Organized into several “studios”, they work with partners on a wide variety of ambitious international projects. As well as constructing buildings, Christian de Portzamparc, an architect, urban planner and painter, is engaged in the search for form and meaning.

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. Building on Christian de Portzamparc’s renewed vision of the urban structure, which he calls the “open block”, the Atelier’s work focuses on research, the quality of living spaces and understanding the city. From unique and outstanding buildings to new approaches to urban planning, the town is the building block of his work, developed in parallel and conjunction with three key elements: landmark buildings, towers, and neighbourhoods, from blocks to the development of major cities.

LANDMARK BUILDINGS

Landmark buildings often become urban benchmarks or symbols that draw an area together to create a pole within the larger urban landscape. Based on these large unique objects, urban poles of attraction, Christian de Portzamparc creates environments in which the interior and exterior spaces intersect and act as catalysts for the dynamics of the cityscape. 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, the Philharmonie Luxembourg, or Cidade das Artes in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

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

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. 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). 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 400 Park Avenue in Manhattan, New York, USA, approved by the City Planning authorities in 2004 and for which the site demolition started in December 2011. Another tower, One57, is under construction in New York and slated for completion in 2013; an ultra-luxury hotel will occupy the first 20 floors of the thousand-feet high tower with 135 super-luxurious condominiums, many featuring breathtaking views over Central Park and the New York skyline. 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.

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.