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Ando’s Museum Project in Paris is Scrapped

“The power of France is the power of culture,” said Japanese architect Tadao Ando when he was selected in 2001 to build the Pinault Foundation, a museum of contemporary art, on the Seguin Island, site of the former Renault automobile factories at the western entry to Paris. Having hoped to open the museum in 2005, François Pinault, owner of Gucci and Christie’s, announced in a front-page article published by Le Monde on May 9 that he was canceling the project. He evoked the bureaucratic slowness and lack of interest of local authorities, noting “all of my requests were met with imprecise responses and vague promises.”

Ando’s design had been shaped like the prow of a ship cutting into the Seine. Twice as large as Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao, the 325,000 square-foot building was designed to open toward the river, with a broad staircase at the front and glass walls on the sides. Pinault has since purchased about 80 percent of the Palazzo Grassi in Venice for about $36.5 million, or roughly 20 percent of what the Ando-designed museum might have cost. Substantially smaller than the Paris project, the Palazzo Grassi has a central location on the Grand Canal and was until recently the venue of major art shows financed by Fiat. The 69 year-old French businessman may also seek another existing building in Berlin for parts of his collection.

Philip Jodidio





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