Mona Bismarck Centre
For American Art and Culture
Mona von Bismarck was an American socialite and patroness of the arts, who settled on the surname of her fourth (of five) husbands, grandson of Count Otto. Muse of the 1950s fashion world, friend of presidents, movie stars and writers, she was immortalised in a portrait painted by Salvador Dali. She left her Hôtel Particulier on the Avenue de New York opposite the Eiffel Tower (along with the rest of her estate) to her eponymous foundation, tasked with promoting American culture in France. The neoclassical building –housing an important fur closet in her private quarters- struggled (as an idiosyncratic private home) to live up to her wishes, and was the subject of our study in 2012 for its comprehensive reconfiguration.
Our proposal’s principal objective was to keep the spirit of the house intact whilst bringing the institution into the ranks of globally-important mid-sized museums. This involved repurposing basement kitchen space into flexible exhibition and workshop use; separating public and goods access for better security and turnover of spaces for private receptions; reconfiguring an attic level into classrooms and meeting spaces to allow revenue-generating uses which would be coherent with the core mission. These changes involved creating disabled and goods lifts, lobbies and buffer zones. They kept the house’s uniquely large and mature garden intact.
We also proposed the addition of a new glazed volume facing the Eiffel Tower, which served to block traffic noise and pollution, creating a large multipurpose space, easily transformable between reception space, auditorium with stepped seating and sunken exhibition courtyard. The roof of this singular volume created an outdoor restaurant terrace facing the River Seine and Eiffel Tower. The triangular voids in the façade were intended to work as solar chimneys, driving natural ventilation and energy exchange for the whole complex.
Client: Mona Bismarck Centre for American Art and Culture
Size: 1830 sq.m
Budget: 19M euros
Studio Andrew Todd architects
Federica von Euw