A super-library combining five national collections in one building, Paris’s National Library of France was the final Grands travaux of President François Mitterrand. Initially commissioned to house all French production of words, images, and sounds since 1945, its architectural competition captured the confusion and variety of architectural thinking in 1989. OMA’s proposal was for a 100-metre-tall cube aggressively placed on the banks of the Seine, a building that marks the beginning of the “big” period and the shift from urbanism to conceptual formalism that Rem Koolhaas would retroactively name in his infamous remark on context.

Across the hall, in our main galleries, James Stirling’s proposal for the National Library of France is included in James Frazer Stirling: Notes from the Archive.

Curators: Rem Koolhaas and Clément Blanchet, OMA.
Graphic design: Atelier Pastille Rose, Montreal.

Selected objects

Building the models
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