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Notes on the Geography of France: Paris 3: Modern: Photo 28

world pictures France: Paris 3: Modern

Here's another view. If it looks like an open book, there's a reason. This is one of the four towers of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, another of Mitterand's grand projects. Designed by Dominique Perrault and built between 1989 and 1995, the towers mark the corners of a box with a lovely plaza, seen here, and a sunken courtyard. The books were to be housed in the towers, while readers descended into the cloistered hole where they were to read with a lovely view of a garden but not so much as a peek at the Seine, literally across the street. Then someone pointed out that sunlight isn't good for paper. A lot of the books moved downstairs, and a lot of offices moved into the towers. Still, there are plenty of books in the towers, which is why 6,000 tons of specially clear glass made by St. Gobain are now permanently covered by wood shutters.

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