group of leading French architects have denounced a plan to renovate the Gare du Nord, one of Paris’s main train stations, calling the designs that would turn the station into a glassy, mammoth, restaurant-filled shopping mall “indecent,” “absurd” and “unacceptable.”

The dispute over the Gare du Nord has been long-running, dividing urban planners and architects for years over what a modern train station should be.

“It all goes to one question,” said Bernard Landau, a former deputy director of urban planning at the city of Paris. “Should we transform all train stations into shopping malls?”1

In addition to competing with local business, opponents have warned that new shops would imperil shopping malls in the nearby suburbs that are already struggling to attract customers.


  • 1. The construction is scheduled to start between the end of the year and early 2020, and to be completed by 2024, when Paris hosts the Summer Olympics and Paralympics Games. The letter in Le Monde called the idea that it could finished in less than five years “ridiculous.”

    The Gare du Nord is at the heart of the transit plans for the Olympics, linking Paris to the Charles de Gaulle Airport, as well as much of the infrastructure dedicated to the events — the Stade de France, a yet-to-be-built pool, and facilities for athletes and the media.