Legal action has delayed the $625m redevelopment of the La Samaritaine building where DFS Group hopes to open its first Parisian off-airport store.
LVMH-owns the building and its Tokyo-based architects SANAA have been working towards transforming the mothballed heritage department store into a multi-use luxury hotel, retail, office centre and creche for a 2016 opening, while preserving its French heritage architecture.
But it has come up against an Administrative Court of Paris ruling (May 13, 2014) supported by some local historians who have declared opposition to any further site demolition, despite the acknowledged need for extensive repairs and renovation. [La Samaritaine in Rue de Rivoli was acquired by LVMH in 2001, but was forced to close back in 2005 when it failed to meet new fire regulations-Ed].
The withdrawal of a portion of the construction permit by the Administrative Court of Paris is now being challenged and particularly considering that LVMH appeared to have already satisfied the so called ‘architecte des Bâtiments de France’ that its renovation was fully in keeping with the heritage, architecture and style of the original.
How La Samaritaine may look inside when it is finished in 2016.
HIGHLY RESPECTED BODY
This body is the acknowledged staunch guardian of historic French heritage buildings which ensures that alterations or construction respect original style and aesthetics.
The Academy of Architecture has since come down firmly on LVMH’s side in this dispute, arguing that halting construction is an insult to all of those experts who examined LVMH’s plans meticulously the first time around and were satisfied they were sound and responsible.
It is now encouraging Parisians to sign its petition to protest at this decision to halt reconstruction. The ruling was apparently based on the Administrative Court’s view that the proposed use of an exterior glass facade on the building is somehow out of keeping with acceptable architecture.
The more familiar view of the grand and historic La Samaritaine.
The Academy of Architecture strongly disputes this in its declaration, arguing that this is no more than a value judgment and the permit should be reinstated.
It says heritage buildings must live side by side with people in cities and this restoration has already been widely approved by experts, including the Ministry of Culture, the Mayor of Paris and other bodies.