May you and your family enjoy a holiday season filled with joy, and may you have abundance and peace in the New Year.
On behalf of the International Coalition for the Preservation of Paris (ICPP), and as U.S. liaison for the French preservationist association SOS Paris, I am delighted to report that although 2015 was a challenging year for Paris and for us, our path forward is clear.
The mission of ICPP is to promote architecture and planning in Paris that reach back through the tumultuous history of that great city and reflect its unique character.
In light of the tumult of 2015, ICPP’s campaigns for the architecture and way of life of Paris may seem frivolous to some. But in fact the glorious physical order of Paris helps to keep us all human and sane, wherever we may live. And if anything, its history of riots and revolutions gives Paris a complex character that a sanitized steel-and-glass modernity can never achieve. Paris is complex and unique.
Just to name one of today’s threats that ICPP must oppose, take the government’s plans for skyscrapers in Paris. ICPP is pushing back. Our book of compelling essays, to be published in cooperation with SOS Paris, is called Paris Without Skyscrapers: The Battle for the Horizon of the World’s Most Beautiful City. Watch for it!
Already, ICPP’s petition against Paris skyscrapers has gained more than 1,000 signatures. Please sign the petition now if you have not done so already, and pass it on. Let’s make it viral!
Meanwhile, not content to blight the horizon with skyscrapers, the government is also urging disastrous changes to many of the most beautiful streets and squares in Paris, imploring architects to be « innovative. » In fact, we say, if the cabal of government technocrats, developers, and star architects prevails, Paris will not be innovative, it will be a clone of Hong Kong or Dubai.
In June, the Conseil d’Etat, the highest court in France on the administrative side, favored rupture with the past in the very center of Paris. It held that Paris must allow luxury-goods purveyor LVMH to build a seven-story tall, 265-foot long, undulating glass wall on the historic rue de Rivoli. The court said it is « contemporary. »
Again, ICPP has pushed back. In January 2015, Notre Dame architecture student Connor Moran arrived in Paris to develop a Samaritaine counter-proposal, generously aided by guidance from officers of SOS Paris Jan Wyers and Christine Nedelec. Connor works now at Ferguson Shamamian in New York City, and on October 14, I was delighted to attend his excellent lunchtime presentation. Connor thanks ND professor Steven Semes for suggesting this thesis project. Connor’s images will be posted on our Facebook page for the International Coalition for the Preservation of Paris after the New Year. Indeed, I have spoken myself and posted widely about the Samaritaine case, until Connor came along, the only person in English to have done the research and reported it in English.
In order to fulfill our mission of promoting the harmonious architecture and planning in Paris, ICPP must continue to raise public awareness. Following on a wonderful speaking experience at the Notre Dame School of Architecture last year, I spoke at ICAA in New York on January 22 (« Will Development Destroy Paris? »), for the Beaux Arts Alliance (« We’ll Always Have Paris, or Will We? ») on February 17, and as part of a panel on infill in traditional cities at the Traditional Building Conference in Denver on October 5, 2015.
Working with Lynn Ellsworth of New Yorkers for a Human-scale City, Barbara Weiss of the Skyline Campaign in London, Jan Wyers, Christine Nedelec, and others at SOS Paris, and Justin Shubow of the National Civil Art Society in Washington, D.C., before year’s end, ICPP will be sending a letter-to-the-editor to major publications globally, opposing the plague of massive skyscrapers that is dehumanizing city neighborhoods the world over and rupturing our human connection to the past.
In the works, ICPP has publications, speeches, and a new website at www.SaveParis.org. We also have plans for a campaign of petitions, meetings, and conferences. Please help us. With the help of our VLA lawyer at Skadden Arps, Daniel Medalie, ICPP is now incorporated, we are applying for a 501(c)(3) ruling from the IRS, and our 501(c)(3) designation will be retroactive. The three board members, Leonard Pitt and Michael West Mehaffy, to both of whom I am most grateful, and I, will assure appropriate use of your gifts. We are aided in our work by a stellar Committee of Advisors from the worlds of architecture, law, literature, and activism.
Please help keep Paris beautiful. Please send checks made payable to ICPP to the address below.
Hoping that 2016 may smile on our beloved Paris, and
Wishing all good things for you and yours,
Mary Campbell Gallagher, President
International Coalition for the Preservation of Paris (ICPP)
P.O. Box 1308 Gracie Station
New York, NY 10028-0010