Things you may not have known about French or Swiss Architects


I’ve been digging through the Architectural vault here at Coffee with an Architect looking for more suprising facts about famous Architects. That’s right, I have a vault here at CwaA. It’s stainless steel and it’s interior is lined with leather made from cows raised specifically for their angst. It’s also cold in there….

But I digress.

Actually, isn’t digression a major part of this blog?

But I digress.

Anyway, the search was successful and after a few hours, I emerged from the vault holding a shoebox with the words “French/Swiss/Dichotomy” written on the lid in black Sharpie. On opening the box, here’s what I discovered:

Étienne-Louis Boullée and Isaac Newton had a long standing disagreement about Gravity. Even though Newton died the year before Boullee was born. It was just, THAT intense of a disagreement.

Peter Zumthor once had a lucid dream, in which a tall man in a white robe told him to cut all the trees on his property down, assemble them into an irregularly shaped chapel, and wait for further instructions. He’s still waiting, plus he’s started collecting animals in groups of 2 and 7.

Bernard Tschumi designed Parc de la Villette by mistake. He was trying to open a can of red paint next to an erector set. Sometimes the true genius is in recognizing the opportunities.

Herzog and de Meuron collect rare and delicate bird’s nests.

Jules Hardouin Mansart had steeply angled hair that allowed him to be one-story taller than the local building codes allowed. He also built the first fast food restaurant. McFoieGras

Henri Labrouste reused a design for a train depot he finished during his 5th year at the Ecole des Beaux Arts for every subsequent commission throughout his career. Eventually, he was fined by the FIAGC – (French Institute of Architecture and Goose Fat.)

Le Corbusier was born in Idaho. His chapel at Ronchamp was modeled after his favorite variety of potato. It was originally named Notre Dame de Vichyssoise.

Jean Nouvel was a world renowned Mime in his youth. His rendition of  “man trapped in a box” was staggering. Somehow the invisible “box” was cantilevered. I don’t know how he did that.

Claude Ledoux was once arrested in Virginia. Apparently, he was building a pyramid out of his own feces in the central Mall at Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia. He was also nude. No wait…, that might have been Peter Greenaway.

I’m closing the box now, I think maybe, these should stay in the vault for a few more years. Oooo, wait… is that another box over there?

Jody { coffee with an architect }




photos of the Paris Catacombs are from dsearls’ photostream on Flickr (used under creative commons license)