Franco American Study Day on May 29, 2015

By Jacqueline Mainguy.

The idea for this gathering germinated when Michèle le Menestrel-Ullrich met with Catherine Graindorge, Director of Studies and Research at the Ecole de Chaillot. They developed and organized todays program with the active assistance of Florence Jeanjean for RMH Prize and Lydie Fouilloux for the Ecole de Chaillot. I hasten to thank them all.

Our school has strong links with this Organization since 1990, after a $25,000 prize was awarded to an architect working in the field of patrimony. This Prize is attributed one year to a French architect; the next year to an American. It offers a study period in France or in America on a patrimonial subject. To date, there have been 26 Fellows and 2 Scholars of whom 12 had a degree from the Ecole de Chaillot.

Today we will be given the opportunity to hear 11 Fellows and Scholars present the work they carried out during their Prize study. Two Fellows came especially from the USA to be here today.

For the elaboration of our program, they were asked to present their research project; for some in the USA for others in France, to define their initial objectives and stakes, to analyse the rewards of the experience and explain in what ways this research program established, confirmed and oriented their professional practices.

Among todays speakers and personalities who gave support our meeting and who will share their experiences with us, I would especially like to thank Mr. Philip Frayne, Minister-Cousellor for Public Affairs, from the American Embassy in France who will open this afternoons’ session, and Mr. Philippe Belaval, President of the Caisse des Monuments Nationaux, member of the RMHP Jury who will put the mondialization of patrimony into perspective. Mr. Alain Marinos, Inspecteur Général des Monuments Historiques, member of the RMH P Jury, will share his thoughts on patrimonies and cultures.

The role of the RMH Prize is essential for architects working on patrimony. For 26 years now it has played a large role in Franco-American exchanges.

Todays study program should illuminate the combined research work concerning patrimony thanks to the RMH Prize, to suggest new themes for future research projects and for a better diffusion of their accomplishments and to renew them in coming years. Today has its place at the crux of the Ecole de Chaillots’ multiple actions which are research, the USA, training of AVE
and international.

On the international scene, in many countries, the Ecole de Chaillot is an active participant in the training of architects who wish to specialize in the field of patrimony. It pursues its implication with partnerships in Bulgaria, in Morocco and in Cambodia and leads workshops in Italy, Greece
and China. There are approximately 130 non-French students here at Chaillot in France or at other institutions with whom Chaillot collaborates closely.

As for research in 2013 the Ecole created an activity, under the leadership of Catherine Graindorge, which, as of now, has two facets.The first facet is to provide acces to a Doctorate in a partnership with the Université Paris 1 (Pantheon-Sorbonne) in order to convey and spread out the patrimony expertise of Chaillot. The official signature of this convention will be signed on June 23, 2015. It encompasses three doctoral schools….archeology, history and history of art and geography. It forsees the creation of a continuing-education doctorate.

The second facet is that of annual study days concerning restauration and conservation projects in all eras, on all scales and on the history of doctrines. The last day of study questioned the heritage of Viollet le Duc in teaching as well as its scientific basis. The next study day is scheduled for December and the subject will be the mastery of a work and the role of numeric tools in patrimony. The meeting will be in collaboration with the laboratory Modeles et Simulations pour l’Architecture et le Patrimoine (UMR CNRS) and the Ministère de la Culture et Communication.

After studying in Paris and Cambridge, Michèle le Menestrel-Ullrich became interested in historic preservation which gave her the incentive to start the American association Friends of Vieilles Maisons Françaises, officially incorporated in 1982 in the United States as a non-profit association. It was re-named French Heritage Society in 2002. As of 1990 Michèle le Menestrel -Ullrich founded the Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship with the American Architectural Foundation. She now co-chairs this outstanding program, designed for architects specializing in conservation and restauration of built patrimony. Since 2009, this $25,000 prize has been generously donated by Lafarge.

So now I will pass the microphone over to her…



Conclusions of seminary

by Jean-Christophe Simon (RMHF1993), Inspecteur Général des Patrimoines, Collège des Monuments Historiques and Ruth Todd FAIA (RMHF1994)

Page and Turnbull, Inc San Francisco (CA), Principal

RMH Fellows in Toulouse – Carcassonne – Albi

Those three days spent together in Toulouse gave us the opportunity to meet, exchange ideas with all the actors involved in preservation and heritage enhancement

  • Landowners and policy-makers
  • Project managers and general contractors
  • Scientific and technical control experts
  • Public institutions in charge of opening to the public policy
  • And let us not forget the artisans of another heritage: gastronomy. We have in mind the foie gras, and the elaborated wines served so generously by the Chateau de Serres.
    The continuity, the vitality of our common heritage, depends on the good will and the cross hands investment of all those actors with whom we cross ideas along these days of studies.
    Albi is the perfect synthesis of our work covering the three topics studied during our workshops:
  • The monument in its environment
  • The accessible monuments
  • The creation within monuments

From your contributions and reflexions, I shall retain that to be alive heritage has to be totally part of the city; that not only we work first for the inhabitants but also for the visitors and monument amateurs. I am deeply convinced that heritage is the common property of the nation and of humankind.

To have a real meaning it has to be accessible to all, it has to be part of everyone’s life.

We, French and American architects, share totally these opinions.

Our concerns bring us together. They are fully personified in the values of the Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship.

By those exchanges, by those “Regards Croisés”, clearly we understand how similar our worries are and how much we can bring to each other.

These crossed experiences, this network of the Fellows finds here its justification.

I, greatly and sincerely thank you for the value of your contribution and for the strength of your commitment.

Ruth Todd, FAIA adds:

Since 1994, not much have change in America regarding our preservation process. At reverse, I feel that in France, much has changed. Boundaries have expanded and urbanism is now an important issue in preservation. With the information age, technology makes it easier to communicate and participate.

We, the RMH Fellows, have achieved a critical mass and each year is raising the quality of the fellowship. We owe this to the commitment of our “chaperones”.

Toulouse, Albi, Carcasonne – Seminar RMHF 2012

Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship RMH Fellows meet in Toulouse – Carcassonne – AlbiMay 25th. – May 29th. 2012 

Under the guidance of Vanessa Fernandez (RMHF 2010) and Jean-Christophe Simon (RMHF 1993)

After Paris, Lyon, Washington DC, Angers, Chicago, the RMHF wished to be associated with the city of Toulouse, remarquable example of «Tradition» and «Architectural Innovation» in an historical context.

Acting as a laboratory of ideas, enriched by the comparison and contrast of experiences and perspectives of each Fellow, this seminar will put into perspective the latest developments in theory and practice related to heritage conservation. It will also reinforcethe personal and professional bonds of the Fellows, ensuring the strength and sustainability of the RMHF.

Continue reading

Wang Shu and the “Leçon inaugurale” of Ecole de Chaillot, in Paris

For the first time at the Ecole de Chaillot, a foreign architect was invited to the prestigious « Leçon inaugurale ».


Global Award for sustainable Architecture in 2007,

Grande médaille d’or de l’Académie d’Architecture de Paris, in 2011

In February 2012, Wang Shu will be the winner of the prestigious Pritzker Prize. France had already fully recognized his extraordinary merit.

He graduated with a degree in architecture from South-East University of Nankin and earned his PHD in 2000 at Tongji University of Shanghai.

In 1998, with his wife, Lu Wenyu, he established his agency Amateur Architecture Studio in Hangzhou. Currently he holds the position of Director of Architecture Department at the University of Hangzhou.

Wang Shu demonstrates a sensitive and poetic approach with traditional savoir-faire, using a very contemporary architectural vocabulary.

Some of his works :

  • Ningbo contemporary Art Museum (2006)
  • In the city of Hangzhou, Zhongshan street renovation
  • The Garden of Tiles at the 10th Venice Biennal (2006)
  • The Tengtou-Ningbo pavilion at the Shanghai Universal Exhibition (2010).

WANG-SHU joins the tradition of the « Leçon inaugurale » of Chaillot, a link between creation, history and patrimony. He re-discovers tradition, comprehends it and transcends it.
It is clear that the French architectural elite are taking notice of this talented architect.