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Summer on the Docks en Seine? Not Likely.

Back in Fall 2008 I wrote an article for France Magazine about the Docks en Seine, one of the hot new architectural additions to the Rive Gauche urban renewal project for the 13th arrondissement stretch of land along the Seine between the Gare d’Austerlitz and the periphérique.The early 20th century building, one of the first to be built of concrete (and probably the only listed historical monument resembling a multi-level parking garage), was given a complete overhaul by a trendy architectural firm Jakob+MacFarlane. This image from the architects was what it was supposed to look like (note the pretty, transparent glass structure similar to the escalator tubes on the Pompidou Centre):

This is what it actually looked like when the article was published (photo from Jakob+MacFarlane):


When I wrote the article, the “Truc Vert” (or “green thing”, as President Sarkozy famously called it) dubbed the Cité de la Mode et du Design was already a year behind schedule. Supposedly it was going to open in Spring 2009 with shops, restaurants, a rooftop garden terrace, and a floating dock with café seating. The main tenant of this, er, contemporary building is the Institut Français de la Mode, which used to be in a pretty Art Nouveau mansion in the chic 8th arrondissement. Now they are here:

In this photo the building actually looks nice, very minimalist and modern. But when I decided to stop by last week to check on the progress of the Docks en Seine — “It must be open by now, right?” — the school is still the only thing open in the building. Here are a few images of what it looks like today:

No floating dock here, even if the Voguéo does make a stop.

This clearly doesn’t give the indication that it will be finished by summertime. Nothing but the school was accessible, so i couldn’t go up to the roof terrace to see the state of the garden that’s supposedly up there.

A few events at the fashion school, including vernissages and fashion week shows, allow the public access, but in general it’s completely closed off. Rumors that the city’s first Apple Store would open here were soon dismissed when it opened (on time) in the Carrousel du Louvre instead. Other stores and cafés that were slated to open here, none that sounded very exciting, have obviously not yet moved in either.

Such potential, wasted. It will be interesting to see what it eventually looks like when finished, and which establishments will decide to eventually set up shop here.

A view of the street-side facade. Very Tron (the original, not the Legacy sequel). This dude must have thought I was taking his photo (“What else here could possibly be photo-worthy?”) Hard to tell which shade of green is more hideous, the one on the Docks en Seine or the one on the sanitation department truck.

So when will it be open to the general public? The last press release I could find said “September 2010” and now that we’re well into 2011, there’s not a new date in sight…à suivre.

 

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  • We were also disappointed when we went over there in late March. Some people were leaving the art center but would not let us in to look. Too bad, as the location is spectacular, but fruition sure looks to be years away.

  • We were also disappointed when we went over there in late March. Some people were leaving the art center but would not let us in to look. Too bad, as the location is spectacular, but fruition sure looks to be years away.

  • We were also disappointed when we went over there in late March. Some people were leaving the art center but would not let us in to look. Too bad, as the location is spectacular, but fruition sure looks to be years away.

  • We were also disappointed when we went over there in late March. Some people were leaving the art center but would not let us in to look. Too bad, as the location is spectacular, but fruition sure looks to be years away.

  • … We finally got our swim, but only after a detour to buy 'budgie smuggler' swimming trunks for the male contingent of the party… I can understand the swimming hat rule for pools in France, but what's going on with the insistence on the briefest of briefs by the Paris trunk police?! Piscine Josephine Baker not the most child-friendly swim of our visit … Aquaboulevard is definitely the way forward if you're swimming with kids in Paris!

  • Rachel: Sounds like quite the day (did you get to swim after all?) Michael: I'm sure the delay is bureaucracy, but the green? I think the architectural firm has to take the blame for that. Doesn't look at all like the photos they submitted to the City.

  • Heather—You know how much I love France, but this looks like French bureaucracy at its worst. From your photos, I can only assume this was done by committee.

  • We walked past this last summer on the way to Piscine Josephine Baker, and I wondered what it was. As we were wandering past, my three year old fell off a kerb stone he was balancing on and bit through his lip. As he started to wail, I bent down way too quickly to scoop him up, and my old trousers ripped right along the seam of the bum. With my arse hanging out of my trousers and a miserable and bloodied son, that afternoon has to go down as the most desolate we spent in Paris!

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