France Unveils Top Secret “Pentagon” Project
The French Ministry of Defense plans to follow the example of the United States and house all of its various departments and offices under a single roof. The winning design for the French “Pentagon” – which will actually be a hexagon – was made public thi
The French Ministry of Defense lifted back the curtain this week on what is being billed as France's version of the U.S. Pentagon, a massive compound that will group together all of the country's various defense departments.
The structure, designed by architects Nicolas Michelin, Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Pierre Bolze, is slated for an area of southwest Paris called Balard. The three architects are partnered with Bouygues Construction, which expects to begin construction at some point in 2014.
This huge architectural endeavor falls within the scope of the "Greater Paris' project. A closely guarded secret, Secretary of Defense Gérard Longuet went public with the basic details of the plan Tuesday. "Balard is a very relevant choice. We hesitated between several places, from Saint Germain to Vincennes," he said.
The decision, two years in the making, will put the headquarters of all three branches of the French military headquarters (the Army, Air Force and Navy) under one roof. The new facility will also house the General Delegation for Armament (DGA), the Planning and Command of Operations Center (CPCO) and several other defense-related departments. The various offices are currently scattered across Paris in a dozen different sites. The Ministry of Defense occupies the opulent Hôtel de Brienne.
According to Minister Longuet, "this innovative project combines modernity and top living conditions for the 9,000 people on the site and the 4,000 people who will be working in the offices."
In July 2009, the Ministry of Defense launched a bidding competition for the construction of its new headquarters, which will operate for 30 years as a public-private partnership. Under the rules of the competition, applicant companies were each asked to choose three teams of architects in order to guarantee the quality of the project. Eventually, the state will assume sole control over the facilities.
Three companies -- Bouygues Construction, Eiffage and Vinci -- competed for the bid. Unlike its two competitors, the winner – Bouygues Construction – was able to successfully integrate the designs presented by each of its three architectural partners: Michelin, Wilmotte and Bolze.
Not to be confused with the U.S. government's famous five-sided military complex in Washington, the French "Pentagon" will actually be a hexagon. The winning design will soon be on display at Paris' Cité de l'Architecture on the Trocadéro plaza.
"The idea of a central hexagon that would point out in six different directions to form small islands of buildings…came to me at the end," said architect Nicolas Michelin.
Read the original article in French
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