An Evening Celebrating Le Corbusier’s Architectural Heritage

December 9, 2016 | By French Culture

On Wednesday, December 7, 2016, a group of of architects, historians, and experts in urban development gathered at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York to discuss the induction of 17 works by the famous architect, Le Corbusier to UNESCO's World Heritage List. The following words were delivered by Cultural Counselor Bénédicte de Montlaur. 

Good evening everyone,

Thank you for joining us at Albertine Books within the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. This event is co-organized by The International Association of Friends of the Le Corbusier Foundation.  

As Cultural Counselor, I am very pleased tonight to celebrate the induction of 17 works by architect Le Corbusier to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, which was announced in July of this year.  

Never before has UNESCO granted this distinction to so many buildings by a single architect. This is truly unprecedented recognition of modern architecture, both in its scale and geographic diversity. The process took more than ten years to complete, with requests submitted by 7 countries: Germany, Argentina, Belgium, France, India, Japan and Switzerland. This list includes the Unité d’habitation, constructed in Marseille in 1945, the Complexe du Capitole, constrcuted in Chandigarh, India in 1952, and the Musée National des Beaux-Arts de l’Occident which was constructed in Tokyo, Japan in 1955. 

These buildings differ greatly in nature and size, including both public and private structures from villas to office buildings and places of worship. Each building is a prototype, a unique experiment, a link in the creative process as well as a link in the time frame of restoration projects.

Tonight, I am honored to introduce our guest speakers, architects, historians, and experts in urban development:  Jean-Louis Cohen, Peter Eisenman, Mary McLeod, Jorge Otero-Pailos, and Claude Prelorenzo.  They are each uniquely knowledgeable about the work of Le Corbusier and will offer great insight into the continuing importance of his legacy. 

And I would like to extend a very warm thank you to Jean-Louis Cohen. He is the one who brought together our fantastic panel of guest speakers, and he will moderate tonight’s talk. 

Jean-Louis Cohen is an architect and a historian of urban cultures. He has taught in Paris for many years and holds the Sheldon H. Solow Chair for the History of Architecture at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. He has also curated several major exhibitions on Le Corbusier including a centennial show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1987 as well as a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2013. 

Peter Eisenman is a member of the New York Five, a group of architects famously noted for their loyalty to modernist architectural style inspired by the work of Le Corbusier. The principal of Eisenman Architects, he has been involved in projects ranging from large-scale housing to inventive private houses. He is currently a professor at Yale University having taught at Harvard, Cambridge, and Princeton in the past. 

Also joining us is Mary Mc Leod, a Professor of Architecture at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications. In the past, she has also taught at the University of Kentucky and the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies. She is a Le Corbusier scholar with a keen interest in the relationship between his architecture and ideology. 

Jorge Otero-Pailos is Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University’s Graduate school of Planning and Preservation. His work brings the disciplines of art, architecture, and preservation into one and has been commissioned by and commissioned by the Artangel Trust, the 53rd Venice Art Biennial, and the Albert Museum. He is the founder and editor of the journal Future Anterior as well as the author of several books.

Finally, we have Claude Prelorenzo, a sociologist, and currently a lecturer at the École Normale Supériere  des Ponts et Chaussées Paris-Tech. He has been a Secretary General of the Le Corbusier Foundation for over twenty years where he has created its periodical Rencontres and promoted its research fellowships. Since 2015, he has also been the secretary of the International Association of Friends of the Le Corbusier Foundation. Lastly, he is the author of Le Corbusier; Trois ventures en méditterranée. 

In closing, I would also like to thank photographer Richard Pare, who graciously gave us the authorization to reproduce the Eglise de Ronchamp. 

We could not be more fortunate to draw from the perspectives of such qualified speakers this evening and I would like thank them all for being here. 

And of course, I would like to thank my wonderful team at the Cultural Services for making this event happen. 

I will now turn the floor to Jean-Louis Cohen. I hope you have a wonderful evening.