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Fire breaks out at Paris iconic Notre Dame Cathedral

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

A massive fire consumed Notre-Dame Cathedral on Monday (April 15), gutting the roof of the Paris landmark stunning France and the world, but firefighters managed to save the shell of the stone structure and its two main bell towers from collapse.

Flames that began in the early evening burst rapidly through the roof of the eight centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, quickly followed by the entire roof.

As it burned into the evening, firefighters battled to prevent one of the main bell towers from collapsing and tried to rescue religious relics and priceless artwork. One firefighter was seriously injured – the only reported casualty.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo and Archpriest of Notre Dame Cathedral Patrick Chauvet mourned the blaze.

The two paid tribute to the cathedral which has formed an important part of French history, with Hidalgo saying it was “a tragedy for the whole world.”

Chauvet confessed he was devastated by the fire.

Hidalgo praised the city’s solidarity in coming together to save the cathedral’s works of art and objects of worship, saying she had been able to work quickly with the Archpriest as well as the city of Paris and Minister of Culture Franck Riester.

Objects saved included the renowned centuries-old Crown of Thorns made from reeds and gold, believed by many to have been worn by Jesus, as well as the tunic of 13th-century king of France, Saint Louis.

Chavet, however, said it had been impossible to save some of the bigger paintings.

Firefighters managed to save the shell of the stone structure and its two main bell towers from collapse after the fire burst rapidly through the roof of the cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, quickly followed by the entire roof. (REUTERS)

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Louvre Pyramid Architect dies at age 102

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2019

(Right) I.M. Pei, the architect behind the Louvre pyramid | Courtesy : Reuters

I.M. Pei, whose modern designs and high-profile projects made him one of the best-known and most prolific architects of the 20th century, has died, the New York Times reported on Thursday (May 16). He was 102.

Pei, whose portfolio included a controversial renovation of Paris’ Louvre Museum and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, died overnight, his son Chien Chung Pei told the newspaper.

Ieoh Ming Pei, the son of a prominent banker in China, left his homeland in 1935, moving to the United States and studying architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. After teaching and working for the U.S. government, he went to work for a New York developer in 1948 and started his own firm in 1955.

The museums, municipal buildings, hotels, schools and other structures that Pei built around the world showed precision geometry and an abstract quality with a reverence for light. They were composed of stone, steel and glass and, as with the Louvre, he often worked glass pyramids into his projects.

The Louvre, parts of which date to the 12th century, proved to be Pei’s most controversial work, starting with the fact that he was not French. After being chosen for the job by President Francois Mitterrand amid much secrecy, Pei began by making a four-month study of the museum and French history.

He created a futuristic 70-foot-tall (21-m) steel-framed, glass-walled pyramid as a grand entrance for the museum with three smaller pyramids nearby. It was a striking contrast to the existing Louvre structures in classic French style and was reviled by many French.

A French newspaper described Pei’s pyramids as “an annex to Disneyland” while an environmental group said they belonged in a desert.

Pei said the Louvre was undoubtedly the most difficult job of his career. When it opened in 1993 he said he had wanted to create a modern space that did not detract from the traditional part of the museum.

“Contemporary architects tend to impose modernity on something,” he said in an New York Times interview in 2008. “There is a certain concern for history but it’s not very deep. I understand that time has changed, we have evolved. But I don’t want to forget the beginning. A lasting architecture has to have roots.”

Other notable Pei projects include the John F. Kennedy Library in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Dallas City Hall.

When Pei won the international Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1983, he used the $100,000 award to start a program for aspiring Chinese architects to study in the United States.

Even though he formally retired from his firm in 1990, Pei was still taking on projects in his late 80s, such as museums in Luxembourg, Qatar and his ancestral home of Suzhou.

Pei, a slight man who wore round, owl-ish glasses, became a U.S. citizen in 1955. He was married to Eileen Loo from 1942 until her death in 2014. They had four children, two of whom became architects. (REUTERS)

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“Macron, resign!” — yellow vest protesters back in Paris

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Yellow vest protesters in Paris on January 5, 2019 | REUTERS

Thousands of yellow vest protesters were back on the streets of Paris on Saturday (January 5), flooding the Champs Elysees and calling for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron, though with no signs of the violence which has marred recent demonstrations.

In the eighth consecutive week of nationwide protests, people wearing the familiar high-visibility vests which have become their symbol called for a boost in purchasing power and direct democracy via a “people’s initiative referendum”.

Unusually, the protests in the capital were organised and the Paris police department was alerted to their planned route.

The protesters marched from the Champs Elysees to the city’s former stock exchange in the busy shopping district around the Grands Boulevards.

No immediate figures for participation were available but the numbers in the streets have been steadily declining in recent weeks.

Saturday’s protest comes after the French government on Friday dismissed the protesters as agitators whose only goal was to topple it, signaling a toughening stance against the movement. — Reuters

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Giant ice rink opens under the dome of Paris’ Grand Palais

by admin   |   Posted on Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

 

Paris Grand Palais | REUTERS

Paris’ Grand Palais hosts, the biggest “indoor” and skating rink of the world, according to its creators, with 3000 square meters of ice.

For the fourth edition, a seven meters high polar bear sculpture, created by Richard Orlinski artist, stands at the center of the ice rink.

Around 3,000 pairs of ice skates are available for visitors, including children, who have their own reserved space.

On Monday, during lunchtime, French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (Olympic silver medalists), as well as Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres, were training on the Paris’ Grand Palais ice.

At night, from 9 p.m a DJ transforms the place into a dancefloor up until 2 a.m. — Reuters

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