Sad moult of Gaîté-Montparnasse, or limits of stars policy

The restructuring of the Pullman hotel by the Dutch agency MVRDV leads to a disappointing generic architecture.


Built in the early 1970s by the French architect Pierre Dufau (1908-1985), the Pullman hotel is one of the highest and elegant skyscrapers in Paris. Large of shoulders, the impeccable line, it was erected in the purest urban tradition of its time, on a slab, whose base has been home to a whole set of activities: a shopping center, the offices of the weekly Le Point, the Jazz Club Le Petit Journal, part of the hotel’s functions, a library, an underground parking …

On the urban level, it was a disaster. The raw concrete carcass, the burgundy metal dressing that served as a screen, the logos of the Tati shops, Marionnaud, Darty, Go Sport, who played elbows on the surface, distilled a bottomless sortless of the name that the name From the complex, “Gaîté-Montparnasse”, underlined with a spicy cruelty.

We could only rejoice that it is the subject of a restructuring, especially since the architects selected for the project, the Dutch MVRDV, built their reputation on a singular capacity to solve urban problems in Conjugating playful inventiveness and formal exuberance (they are here associated with French SRA, an agency which has positioned itself, as the privileged partner of large international agencies working in France).

Speaking of large boxes of different sizes clad in sparkling colors, the project, which they presented in 2015, seemed to wake up the dusty fabric on the avenue du Maine and rue du Commandant-René-Mouchotte. Piloted by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, world real estate giant whose empire continues to extend to Paris (Carrousel du Louvre, Forum des Halles, future triangle tower …), it was part of the vast Transformation plan of the Montparnasse station district.

effective but insipid

On delivery, there is not much left. The specifications have been respected, which required to densify the island by building new buildings, increasing commercial surfaces and those of offices, integrating social housing and a crèche, improving traffic in the Shopping center and opening it on the street, and giving, by the way, a fresh blow to the Pullman hotel … The architects filled it well, by bringing as much light as possible, they assure, while that the contracting authority welcomes the collection of environmental excellence labels which it has won for this project.

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/Media reports.