Retrouvailles de Printemps en Provence : RMHP Bi-Annual Reunion 2016

Photo Kyle R. Brooks


From Architectural Heritage to Contemporary Architecture: The Past Meets the Present

The Richard Morris Hunt Prize Fellows and Scholars gathered in Nîmes for their bi-annual reunion. The program was orchestrated by Laurent Duport, RMHP Fellow 2014, C+D Architecture and lecturer at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Montpellier. Participants were received by both local officials and private hosts.


Photo Kyle R. Brooks

Under the auspices of the United States Embassy, in the presence of Monique Quesada, Consul General in Marseille,  Ruth Todd (RMHP Fellow, Principal at Page and Turnbull) opened the program with her conference Historic Preservation: Perspectives from the West Coast of the United States. The Norman Foster-designed Carré d’Art de Nîmes served as our opening venue.

U.S. Consul General Monique Quesada (left) with members of the Hunt Prize group in Nîmes. Photo U.S. Consulate General, Marseille

U.S. Consul General Monique Quesada (left) with members of the Hunt Prize group in Nîmes.
Photo U.S. Consulate General, Marseille

Past and present laureates presented their ongoing projects and discussed future Hunt Prize endeavors during a round-table meeting, followed by a fascinating sequence of outings – first with architect Antoine Bruguerolle, who presented his urban-planning work in Nîmes, then with Elizabeth de Portzamparc, architect in charge of a daring work-in-progress at the Musée de la Romanité.

Michèle le Menestrel Ullrich with Antoine Bruguerolle Photo RMHP

Michèle le Menestrel Ullrich with Antoine Bruguerolle
Photo RMHP

Architect Elizabeth de Portzamparc Photo

Architect Elizabeth de Portzamparc













Daniel Jean Valade, Vice-Mayor in charge of Cultural Affairs, receives us in Nîmes’s magnificent City Hall, recently revisited by Laurent Duport.  Valade gives a detailed account of his city’s ongoing candidacy as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For dinner, we are received by friends who open their city mansion to our 30 guests, with charm and elegance.

Arriving in Arles “La Culturelle”, we are greeted at City Hall by the dynamic mayor Hervé Schiavetti and Stéphanie Zugmeyer, architect and archeologist, INRAA-CNRS, RMHP 2000. Stéphanie guides us on a visit of some of her ongoing restoration jobs, including the Roman theater and amphitheater, concluding at the Musée de l’Arles Antique.

Fast forward to the shock of the 21st century at the Parc de Ateliers where Frank Gehry’s new tower is rising on the new LUMA Foundation campus. The existing buildings are being rehabilitated by Annabelle Selldorf of New York in collaboration with our own Laurent Duport. As evening set in, the cool terrace of a patrician townhouse welcomes us for a friendly, relaxed evening. What more could one wish for?

Louis Faye, watercolor, 19th century

Louis Faye, watercolor, 19th century

Marseille, enriched by its past and by its present, lulls us through the narrow streets of the Panier, one of them blocked off for our tables and our aioli…  At the Musée d’Histoire de Marseille, André Malrait, Vice-Mayor for Cultural Affairs, and museum’s architect Roland Carta related the complexity of the project of coherently unifying the vestiges of the Greco-Roman port with the contemporary urban landscape. Laurent Védrine, Managing Curator, explains the choices made in the presentation of the museum’s collections.

Iconic as ever, the must-see Cité Radieuse is a crystallization of Le Corbusier’s philosophy. The story of the cité du Fada was recounted to us by Corinne Vezzoni, elected Woman Architect of the Year in 2015. Visiting the interiors of her studio allowed us to discover the innovative architecture – decried in Le Corbusier’s time – of the unités d’habitation arranged to form a village.

This long day ended at the restaurant-bookstore, Les Arcenaulx, in the heart of a neighborhood well known as an example of reconversion. A club-like atmosphere, a refined table.

The final day of our voyage began with a second round-table in the VIP room of MUCEM, thanks to Leopold Lombard. Leopold emphasized the close collaboration between Lafarge Holcim and the architect Rudy Riccotti during the museum’s construction. Technical research, the performance capacity of concrete, lacy forms made from Ductal…

CMA CGM Tower (Zaha Hadid, 2010), Marseille Photo D. Saint Olive

CMA CGM Tower (Zaha Hadid, 2010), Marseille
Photo D. Saint Olive

Zaha Hadid is no longer with us. Diva of the zigzag movement, first woman to receive the Pritzker Prize, Hadid strove toward pure verticality in her design for the CMA CGM Tower. Architect Yves Bonnel, advisor to CMA CGM president Jacques Saadé, made this exceptional visit possible for us.

Jérôme Francou, Perspective Patrimoine Ltd., RMHP Fellow1996, led us on an extensive tour of his heritage jobsite at the Hotel Amédée Armand.

Photo John Robbins

Photo John Robbins

All decked out in black and white, we climbed the 230 steps to the Nid d’Aigle [Eagle’s Nest]. This house, perched on a rocky summit, was designed and inhabited by the architect André Stern. Thanks to the generosity of those who have followed in his footsteps, we had the pleasure of enjoying our Farewell Dinner in unforgettable surroundings. Our farewell to an unforgettable city… Hunt Prize diplomas were distributed, gifts were offered. We will meet again in Louisiana in 2018.

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