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“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” -Cicero
Paris is the Mecca of romance where everyone dreams of visiting at least once in life, preferably with a romantically linked partner. Fortunately, I have visited Paris more than a couple of times, and experienced its perfected atmosphere and beautiful landmarks. This includes my visits to Musee d’Orsay where I discover wonderful surprises, Impressionist paintings, and the stunning architecture of the building, itself.
Musee d’Orsay was originally built for the Chemin de Fer de Paris a Orleans as a railway station for Southwestern France, by three architects: Lucien Magne, Emile Benard, and Vitor Laloux. It originally opened for the 1900 Exposition Universelle to celebrate these three architects. From the French government’s decision to convert the station to a museum in 1977, the legendary Italian architect Gae Aulenti was awarded its conversion project, which occurred from 1980 to 1986. Since its reopening, the museum has greeted millions of global visitors and now has its third director, Serge Lemoine.
I have visited the Musee d’Orsay on several occasions, and then most recently during the summer of 2008. I found myself appreciating the maturing details that Aulenti created during this visit. The details are not overwhelmingly Postmodern, a common trend during the 1980s. In contrast, Aulenti’s details are subtle but functional. Although the details mimic existing Beaux-Arts projects, a very Postmoodern approach, the largely identifiable architectural details that Aulenti implemented are forgiving. His identifiable details are subtle enough that most visitors can focus on the exhibits instead of Aulenti’s fine points of architectural renovations. Nevertheless, I, and some others who have a knack for heightened observation, see the details and appreciate them for being tactile and simple.
I love simple, straightforward things with low-tech approach. The simple applications Aulenti created are modules digestible to everyone, universally. Most of all, her approach to the project is inspirational: fundamental ways to implement subtle improvements to an historic space without juxtaposing distracting characteristics to the space. The following selected images show the assemblages of materials that exemplify appropriate uses of scale response to existing details.
Images by D.B. Kim.