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Art News:


Musée Louvre-LENS Breaks Ground

Winning Design by Imrey Culbert and Sanaa Will Be Realized By 2012

NEW YORK – The highly anticipated ground breaking for the Louvre  
LENS recently took place on December 4, 2009 atop an abandoned mine  
field near the city of Lille in Northern France.  Co-designed by New  
York-based Imrey Culbert, Tokyo-based Sanaa, and Paris-based Mosbach  
Paysagistes, the new branch of the Louvre will span 300,000 square  
feet of new construction, devoting over 75,000 square feet of  
galleries and visitable storage areas for hundreds of treasures from  
the Louvre’s collection.

  “To be a part of the laying of the first stone ceremony, with my  
co-designers, France’s Culture Minister Frederic Mitterand,  
officials from the Louvre and former mine workers,” says Celia  
Imrey, a principal of Imrey Culbert, “Gave me a sense of how  
important this new museum is, not only as a cultural destination, but  
also as a key factor in the renaissance of a town that has seen much  
suffering from mining and war.”

The 153 acre site selected for the Louvre-LENS is slightly higher  
than its surrounding.  As a result, the design strategy calls for a  
series of five pavilions – low one-story structures that will grace,  
enhance, and dissolve into the landscape rather than overpower it.   
All of the buildings, whether reflective or transparent, meander  
slightly along with the gentle curves of the site. To actually fuse  
nature with the structures, highly reflective polished and anodized  
aluminum façade clad the volumes, creating blurred reflections of the  
surroundings, changing with the scenery, the weather, and the  
position of the person viewing it.

“The design is said to be reminiscent of the Louvre in Paris with  
its two outstretched wings,” says Imrey.“  We conceived this new  
Louvre to be everything the Palais Louvre is not, and sought to  
create transparency both literally and figuratively.”

The two easternmost pavilions are the principal exhibition halls, one  
being the opaque Galerie du Temps (Gallery of Time) – a semi- 
permanent exhibition of artworks regardless of styles and places of  
origin and arranged in chronological order, which is a striking  
departure from the way art is exhibited in the Paris Louvre. The  
center pavilion, a square glass volume will serve as the main  
reception area and a public space for the local population and will  
house a multimedia library, museum store and cafeteria.  An  
Introductory Gallery, accessible via a large staircase, is a place  
where visitors can peer down onto the museum’s reserves and the  
studios where artworks are prepared for display.  The main storage  
area will be visitable by small groups of 15 people per tour.  The  
next pavilion will house temporary exhibitions, and the final will  
house a 300-seat auditorium.

Since it was founded in 1793, the Louvre has been a national museum  
whose collections and skills are available to the entire nation and  
whose mission is to reach out to regions beyond Paris. The Louvre  
Lens will have its own departments and a full range of artistic,  
social, and educational programs and activities. Though it won’t  
have a collection of its own, it will be filled with works of art  
from the collections of the Louvre that will be on temporary  
exhibition. The works will be presented in new and innovative ways,  
giving them new meaning and making them more culturally accessible.  
One of the museum's objectives will be teaching the public how to  
look at art. Works will be presented in an educational context, which  
will draw heavily on the latest information and communication  
technologies. To make the works easier to understand, the collections  
will be displayed transversally, reaching beyond the limits of the  
traditional museum departments, thus giving visitors a new  
understanding of the works.

“Our firm,” says Celia Imrey, a principal of Imrey Culbert, “has  
had much experience in museum and exhibition design; to be a part of  
the laying of the first stone ceremony was momentous.  Once realized,  
our design will make it possible for the masterpieces of the Louvre  
to be on view in new and innovative ways, giving them new meaning and  
making them more culturally accessible.”

The design team consists of internationally acclaimed designers and  

Architectural Design Team:

SANAA –Tokyo / Architect, Leaders of the Team, Co-Designers Kazuyo  
Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa /
IMREY CULBERT LP – New York/Co-Designers, Museography/Gallery Design
Tim Culbert + Celia Imrey

MOSBACH PAYSAGISTES – Paris / Landscape design, Co-Designers

Architectural and Engineering Joint Venture Team:

Bureau Michel FORGUE  – Paris / Pricing and quantity surveyor
BETOM Ingénierie – Versailles / MEP and structural engineers
TRANSPLAN - Stuttgart / Energy and comfort concept
Hubert PENICAUD – Paris / Environmental design engineers
Sasaki and Pertners – SAPS - Tokyo / Consultant structure concept
BOLLINGER + GROHMANN GmbH – Frankfurt / Structural engineering and  
façade engineering
ARUP LIGHTING – London / Artificial and natural daylighting
AVEL ACOUSTIQUE – Paris / Acoustical engineers
GROUPE CASSO – Paris / Code and fire security

Other Team Members:

EXTRA MUROS – Paris, Antoine Belin – Lens / Operating architects
Studio Adriene Gardere – Paris  / Scenography/ Museography

Basic Facts:

Location: Lens, France
Client: Region Nord – Pas-de-Calais, 1:15min Northwest from Paris by  
Construction Budget: 150 million euros.
Anticipated Attendance: 450,000 – 550,000 visitors/year (700,000  
anticipated the first year)
Louvre collection = Antiquity to 1850, primarily European and Near  
East/North Africa
On display:  works by La Tour, Raphael, Fragonard, Veronese,  
Rembrandt, and Botticelli are among those selected for display.

About Imrey Culbert

Imrey Culbert is an architectural design atelier with offices in New  
York and Paris.  Established in 2001 by Celia Imrey and Tim Culbert,  
the firm focuses on museum and gallery design worldwide.

Recent National Projects include:

The Toledo Art Museum Glass Pavilion (permanent casework and galleries)
The Pierpont Morgan Library (permanent casework and gallery design),
The Rubin Museum of Art (façade and all public areas including the  
The Smithsonian American Art Museum (permanent galleries)
The New York Public Library (permanent galleries)
The National Museum of the American Indian, New York (permanent  
galleries- under construction)
San Antonio Museum of Art (expansion design, completed by Overland &  
Material Connexion New York Headquarters

Recent International Projects include:

The Kuwait National Museum (design architects for the expansion and  
renovation, construction due to begin in 2010)
Dar Al Bacha/ Patti Birch Museum, Marrakesh (Concept Design and  
Feasibility Study – project approved but on hold)

On The Boards (largest projects):

The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles (All public areas including the  
galleries – in the Design Development phase)
Musée Dobree in Nantes, France (First Place selection in  
international competition, November 2009)
Musée National de Beaux Arts expansion, Quebec City (Finalists in  
international competition, submission is due January 2010)

In addition to museum and gallery design, the firm’s practice  
includes offices and residences and prides itself by devoting  
significant resources to in-house research and development,  
constantly developing their awareness of products and building  
systems, and have made a commitment to environmentally responsible  
design, construction and in-house office practices.

# # #

Press  Contact:

Dan Schwartz / Susan Grant Lewin Associates / 212 947 4557 /  




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