If you’ve walked along the Seine in the last eight years and wondered what that looming Art Deco building is, staring southward across the water, here’s your answer: Paris‘ La Samaritaine department store was once a pillar of fashion that, until recently, stood as little more than a large abandoned building gathering dust and graffiti, a reminder of a bygone era. Now, thanks to the luxury conglomerate LVMH and architecture firm SANAA, La Samaritaine will see a new Belle Epoque of its own.
Since 1870, La Samaritaine was the one-stop-shopping destination for chic Parisians, made iconic by the slogan, “You find everything at La Samaritaine.” The intricate Art Deco and Belle Epoque details both inside and outside of the department store, carefully carved out of iron and worked into stained glass, made La Samaritaine a benchmark for architecture of the time.
Located in the first arrondissement of Paris, La Samaritaine isn’t far from the Louvre or from the chic area of Saint Germain just across the Pont Neuf. Its ideal location and rich history made it a valuable addition to the LVMH portfolio in 2001, joining notable brands such as those in its moniker: Louis Vuitton, Moët and Hennessey. The renovation of the 860,000 square feet will be no easy feat, but the Tokyo-based architects from SANAA are up for the challenge.
The recently unveiled Samaritaine renovation project will integrate some architectural diversity into Paris’ rue de Rivoli, as the plans show the new face of La Samaritaine as an immense glass window offering a view into the multiple levels of the store. In addition to the department store, the new Samaritaine will be home to the first Cheval Blanc hotel in Paris (designed by architect Edouard François) as well as LVMH’s first DFS duty-free emporium in Europe, a full-sized Louis Vuitton retail store, office space, 96 residential apartments, a day care for children and a restaurant.
Continuing on the legacy of La Samaritaine as a fiber of Paris’ retail and cultural fabric, the renovation project is part of a bold and innovative environmental vision for the future of the city. Mark your calendars — the grand reopening of the building is set for 2016.
Photos Courtesy of SANAA