In 2001, Bernard Arnault, the Chairman of LVMH, met Frank Gehry, and told him of plans for a new building for the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne. Suzanne Pagé, then director of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, was named the foundation’s artistic director in charge of developing the museum’s program.
Upon Arnault’s invitation, Frank Gehry visited the garden, and imagined an architecture inspired by the glass Grand Palais, and also by the structures of glass, such as the Palmarium, which was built for the Jardin d’Acclimatationin 1893.
The building site is designed after the founding principles of 19th century landscaped gardens. It connects the building with the Jardin d’Acclimatation at north, and the Bois de Boulogne to the south.
The two-story structure has 11 galleries of different sizes (in total 41,441 square feet), a voluminous 350-seat auditorium on the lower-ground floor and multilevel roof terraces for events and art installations. Gehry had to build within the square footage and two-story volume of a bowling alley that previously stood on the site; anything higher had to be glass. The resulting glass building takes the form of a sailboat’s sails inflated by the wind. These glass sails envelop the “iceberg”, a series of shapes with white, flowery terraces. The galleries on the upper floors are lit by recessed or partially hidden skylights. Book your Eurostar ticket and go for the day, the building itself is worth the visit. There are always great exhibitions going on as well.
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