HISP 470: Preservation Abroad – Paris

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Course Outline

The Preservation Abroad program abroad aims to educate students in the architectural and planning history and historic preservation practice in Paris, France. This will entail learning about the city, both in readings and in experiencing relevant sites. Students will be expected to make connections with architectural and planning history and preservation practice in the United States. What can be learned from Paris in an American context? How does Paris illuminate architectural and planning history in the US?

As a primarily preservation-oriented course, pre-existing familiarity with France and/or the French language are not required for the course. The course will be taught in English.

Course Objectives

Foster an understanding of the different types of preservation issues and challenges abroad.
Acquire familiarity with architectural and planning history of Paris.
Provide experience in researching and writing for historic preservation purposes.
Foster students’ curiosity and desire to continue seeking information regarding current issues and challenges affecting preservation and historic resources both in the United States and abroad.

Site Visit Details

Île St Louis/Île de la Cité
The islands at the center of Paris have historically been the heart of the city. Their design and preservation will be the topic of this visit, which will span the length of both islands and a visit to Notre Dame cathedral.

Quartier Latin
This area of Paris, at the intersection of the Boulevard St Michel and Boulevard St Germain, retains its medieval character. Early Parisian urban and architectural history will be explored among the winding, narrow streets of the neighborhood.

Grands Magasins & Opera Garnier
Nineteenth Century Parisian architecture was revolutionary not only in style (Second Empire) but also in their functionality. Both function and design will be observed in this visit, which will start at the Rue de Rivoli and then to the opera and Boulevard Haussmann.

Jardin du Luxembourg
The Luxemburg Garden predates public parks. Its various parts show the development of Paris and also design styles over the years. This visit will allow students to explore the park and its history.

No explanation necessary: this is the largest museum in the world. Everyone needs to see it.

Le Marais & Place des Vosges
This old section of Paris was once the Jewish quarter, and is now a vibrant, multifaceted community. During this visit, students will get to experience the development and changes of Paris through the medieval times to the 19th Century.

Cimetière du Père Lachaise
This Cemetery inspired new burial practices throughout the Western world, particularly in the United States. During this visit, students will tour the different parts of the cemetery, paying particular attention to layout and architectural and sculptural motifs.

Égouts de Paris
Another major infrastructure component in any city is the sewer system. Paris’ system, developed under Baron Haussmann, is open to visitors. This is not generally the case in other cities, so the visit will allow students to explore this facet of city management in a gold-standard example.

Musée d’Orsay & Les Quais
Nineteenth Century redesign of Paris included the use of rail and intensified use of the river. This visit will include the Musée d’Orsay, a train station adaptively reused as one of the most beloved museums in the world. The importance of the river will also be discussed.

Dealing with the dead is an ongoing problem in any major city. Paris dealt with the issue in unconventional ways. This visit will discuss the different solutions to prevent disease in disposing of the dead.

Les Halles et le Métro
Les Halles were once the “stomach of Paris”. Since the destruction of the original market buildings and their replacement with the commercial center present today, there has been a growing dissatisfaction with the appearance and functionality of the hub. As students visit the gardens of Les Halles, the transit station, and the commercial center, the design of the space and proposed re-designs will be discussed.

Quartier Bercy
This most recent example of urban renewal in Paris is unique in the way it has merged new design and adaptive reuse. It is a very rare case of renewal that has not displaced the majority of residents. Students will visit the neighborhood, paying particular attention to anchors of the neighborhood and the new pedestrian-oriented infrastructure.

Montmartre has become a tourist center of Paris, and as such must grapple with a number of preservation issues, including conservation of resources and maintenance of authenticity. These issues surrounding heritage tourism will be discussed as students ride the funicular up to the Sacré Coeur, visit the basilica, and tour the Place des Tertres.

Graded Course Requirements

Class Participation (30%) Students will be assessed on timely attendance to events, enthusiasm, and participation. The format of the course makes this a particularly crucial component, and students will be assessed accordingly.
Journal (30%) A web-based journal in blog format will be maintained by each student and updated with a new entry at least twice a week. The entries should focus on the visits made that week, but may discuss any relevant aspect of the site/visit/experience. Extensive use of media is strongly encouraged. In addition, students will also comment on at least two other entries by classmates per week.
Project Proposal (10%) A proposal detailing the chosen topic for the final project, the outline of the paper or details on the media, and two relevant references will be due on July 15th. The proposal must be approved before proceeding. The proposal should be emailed in PDF format to alsmith@umw.edu. Please include your name in the file name.
Final Project (30%) The course will culminate with a final project, due August 14 . The project will focus on one or more aspect of Paris urban history, architectural history, and/or historical preservation. Thorough analysis of the topic will be expected, whether the student chooses a creative or analytical project. The paper should be emailed in PDF format to alsmith@umw.edu. Other media can be sent as TIFF or other high-resolution files. Please include your name in the file name.