dark mode light mode Search
Search

A Phoenix Rises: The Grand Palais’ Spectacular Rebirth

Le Grand Palais, Paris, FR / Chatillon Architectes

The Grand Palais, a historic monument in Paris, has undergone a remarkable transformation by Chatillon Architectes. The restoration project, initiated in 2021, is progressing steadily with the first phase scheduled to be revealed this summer, while the entire renovation is expected to be completed by 2025.

Le Grand Palais, Paris, FR / Chatillon Architectes

Originally designed as a temporary Beaux-Arts palace for the 1900 Universal Exhibition, the Grand Palais has evolved into a timeless symbol of artistic excellence in the heart of the city. Throughout its century-long history, the Grand Palais has been a global platform for French cultural events and exhibitions, showcasing the best of the country’s artistic scene.

Le Grand Palais, Paris, FR / Chatillon Architectes

Despite facing challenges such as neglect and the threat of demolition, the Grand Palais has been revitalized by Chatillon Architectes. The architects have focused on enhancing public access, increasing natural light, and reconnecting the building with its urban environment.

Le Grand Palais, Paris, FR / Chatillon Architectes

By drawing inspiration from archival plans and documents, the restoration aims to create a cohesive and unified space within the Grand Palais. This ambitious project not only improves accessibility for visitors but also increases the venue’s capacity, allowing the Nef to host 60% more guests for various events.

Le Grand Palais, Paris, FR / Chatillon Architectes

The Grand Palais’s historical features can now be rediscovered by guests, thanks to the introduction of newfound connections between the three main areas, improved circulation, and new visitor services. This includes a free new interior walk from Square Jean Perrin to the Seine via the central square, which links the Palais d’Antin and the Nave. Additionally, the Nef’s beautiful surrounding balconies, which showcase some of the earliest recorded cantilevers, have been reinforced and restored. This allows them to once again be part of the visitor journey, offering fresh and new perspectives across the grand structure.

Le Grand Palais, Paris, FR / Chatillon Architectes

Chatillon has played a significant role in creating public access like never before by removing ad-hoc walls and separations that had been installed over time. Notably, the building’s original central axis has been reinstated, reconnecting the main nave with Palais de la Découverte. This restoration also restores a view from the Rotunda that has not been seen since 1939.

Furthermore, the restoration project not only facilitates a seamless flow within the building but also reconnects the Grand Palais to the historical cityscape. This creates a renewed connection with neighboring landmarks such as the Champs-Elysées and the Petit Palais.

Le Grand Palais, Paris, FR / Chatillon Architectes

The newly created public Grand Palais gardens surrounding the structure draw inspiration from the nearby Champs-Élysées gardens. They share a similar spirit with curved beds and paths, lawns, and a diverse selection of planting. Along Boulevard Churchill, a wall of evergreen shrubs has been placed, accompanied by a wide variety of greenery, roses, perennials, and bulbs. In total, there are 250 species and over 60,000 plants. The newly-planted lawns will be irrigated by rainwater collected from the building’s roofs. Many of the new plants have been carefully selected from the wild palette of the Paris basin to support pollination and local biodiversity.

Le Grand Palais, Paris, FR / Chatillon Architectes

The restoration of the Grand Palais aligns with a robust sustainable development strategy. It integrates modern technical solutions and management practices into this culturally significant site.

With a profound understanding of the Grand Palais’s legacy, Chatillon Architectes has ushered it into a new era, safeguarding the relevance of this timeless monument and ensuring it continues to be a nexus for creativity, innovation, and grandeur.

Image courtesy of Laurent Kronental