Historic Richelieu Complex reopens in Paris after phase 1 of 10-year renovation

The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) is the National Library of France, located in Paris. It is the national repository of all that is published in France. The library traces its origin to the royal library founded at the Louvre Palace by Charles V in 1368.

Today, the BnF’s collections are unique in the world: 14 million books and printed documents, manuscripts, prints, photographs, maps and plans, scores, coins, medals, sound documents, video and multimedia documents, scenery elements… All disciplines, whether intellectual, artistic or scientific, are represented in a comprehensive way. About 150 000 documents are added to the collections each year thanks to legal deposit, acquisitions and donations. The BnF’s digital library, Gallica, provides access to over three millions documents.

Numerous cultural events highlight and make known the library’s outstanding collections: exhibitions, lectures, symposiums, concerts and meetings are planned all the year long.

Quadrangle.

The library’s Richelieu complex, recently re-opened after six years of restoration work. The renovation, by Bruno Gaudin and Virginie Brégal, has brought a new dynamism and intelligence to the library, while preserving and protecting the best of its historical features.

Discussions about the need to renovate and reorganize the complex began in the late 1990s, with the opening of Dominique Perrault’s vast François-Mitterrand library, which first allowed Richelieu to reorganise its collections between the two sites. Many of the Richelieu’s reading rooms required restoration, and circulation problems across the site also needed addressing, given the relatively organic way in which extensions had been added to the site since the eighteenth century.

The library’s Richelieu complex, recently re-opened after six years of restoration work, is no exception. The renovation, by Bruno Gaudin, has brought a new dynamism and intelligence to the library, while preserving and protecting the best of its historical features.

Reading Room, Richelieu site.
Photo by Vincent Desjardins via Wikipedia

The biggest challenge was to restore the Reading Room’s original vibrant colors, while ensuring that the space was compliant with modern day building codes and regulations. meanwhile, the site’s six reading rooms have undergone interventions, adapted to their specific heritage.

The architects also reorganized visitor flow through the complex. a new distribution, oriented north/south as well as east/ west reorganized the technical networks as well as the movement of users, providing easy access to the collections. between the main rooms, stairs and elevators have been inserted into the building’s intervening spaces, without disturbing the unity.

Photos courtesy of Marchand Meffre unless otherwise noted.

See article by Crystal Bennes in METROPOLIS.

See article in DesignBoom.

See BnF website.

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