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The uncertain Future of the Hotel de la Marine

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The imposing Hotel de la Marine (also known as the Hotel du Garde-Meuble, royal furniture depot) was buit in 1757-74 by the King's architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel at the same time as its twin building the Hotel de Crillon, tereby creating one of the most intriguing urban squares in Paris, the future Place de la Concorde.
Hordes of tourists flock to this square from all over the world, not knowing that, since the Hotel de la Marine has been the seat of the French Naval Staff since 1789, things are about to change here for good.

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The plans for a new French version of the Pentagon have been in the works for years now, and in 2014 the Naval offices will finally move out of their illustrous seat and into the new structure in the 15th arrondissement.
So the question of how to dispose best of the historic and recently renovated building on the Concorde square. Obviously since it is a national monument, the government will not be selling it but renting it out to a responsible new owner for a duration of between 40 and 99 years of lease.
So now the competition is open for who will present the best project, from private or public institutions alike.
Here are some of the more interesting projects:
  • Since its first use was the Royal Furniture Storage, it should be turned back into its primary function so that people can come and visit the most prestigious furniture pieces from the French Crown that are currently in storage in the Garde Meuble National somewhere else in Paris, in an ugly concrete building.
  • The building could also become the new Museum of French History that President Sarkozy wants to be created (certainly only to leave a personal mark on the capital, just like every French president before him). But this project has also been eyeing the Old National Archives Palace in the Marais whose collections will be transfered into the banlieue in the coming years.
  • Another private project is planning to put a "Medici Palace of the 21st century" in here, complete with luxury hotel, luxury residences and luxury shops and exhibition spaces for art galeries. You can already guess this will be the most criticized project already.

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Only the next months will tell us what the official decision will be. But it will certainly be a decision with major effects on the French capital and the image the Place de la Concorde is projecting of French culture and society.

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    I am Cedric, discoverer of things that would go unnoticed in the streets of Paris, historic haven of fashionistas and city of lights ('lights' as in 'enlightenment', not street lights).
    But seriously: I'm an expat from Luxembourg (the country, not the garden), living in the center of Paris (hence 'Paris 2nd arrondissement'), and currenlty studying architectural history...


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