10.06.2005

Past

I've been following the latest Parisian debate over "muséification" out of the corner of my eye. I have a thing for urban planning, which I suspect comes from my love of maps.

The crux of the debate is the fight between two valid points. First, those who believe Paris and its rich heritage should be preserved as is and that city laws should prevent any radical changes. The opponents argue that most of Paris is so full of heritage that there's no more space to change anything, especially in the city core. This is a good fight!

I agree that cultural and urban heritage should be preserved but how much of it can you rope off? Is a city a living, evolving thing or should it become a museum? The people who support change are accused of being "developers out to make a buck" but I think you can make a pretty good argument that too much of Paris is stuck in the past. Most of the modern development is way outside of the city core. Should a city perpetually look back at what it was or is that simply what it is and should remain? In a thousand years is Paris going to look the same? Should it?

A lot of people deride the glass pyramid of The Louvre by I.M. Pei (the same guy who designed Place Ville Marie here in MTL). I personally think its great. It adds a nice touch of 20th century to a building that could have been overly fossilized. You couldn't have added something in the style of the time and have it not look out of place. Why not add something from the now? It complements its surroundings, looks good in its own right, and is very functional.

I don't think they should tear down the Eiffel Tower and put up a row of condos but you shouldn't kill a city by putting it in a bottle.