Beth A. Jacob testimony

“I recently had the honor of visiting the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts with Florence Jeanjean, French Program Director for the Richard Morris Hunt Prize, along with Luc Liogier, Director of ENSA Paris-Malaquais. During our visit, we were fortunate to tag along with François Chatillon, Chief Architect of Historic Monuments. As a Richard Morris Hunt Prize fellow in 2017, I found this experience especially meaningful. As we all know, Hunt was the first American to attend the old École des Beaux-Arts. That formative experience, combined with his trips across France and Europe, inspired his approach to architecture. When he returned to the US in 1855, he was passionate about passing on what he had learned in Europe. Inspired by the Beaux-Arts model, he was a pioneer in developing new ways to teach and practice architecture. He also worked to increase architects’ professional recognition by helping found the American Institute of Architects, which he would later go on to chair. All of his built work used the Beaux-Arts style, which was becoming trendy and more widespread in the United States.

While roaming the classrooms and hallways of the École des Beaux-Arts, I thought about how Richard Morris Hunt must have wandered those same spaces. What did he think about when he was attending classes in the Amphithéâtre d’Honneur inside the Palais des Études? Did he stop to admire the murals on the walls or the painted ceilings in the Cour du Mûrier? What kind of inspiration did he gain from the sculpture collection in the chapel? By visiting these places, I felt like I was walking in his footsteps. And I’m not alone. As I stood in front of a monument erected by American students in the 1930s as a gesture of gratitude to the school, I realized the part I’ve played in this process. There’s also a Japanese cherry tree in the garden planted by the Richard Morris Hunt Prize in 2015 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fellowship.

Cultural exchange between France and the United States is an intrinsic part of the Richard Morris Hunt Prize. This intensive six-month program is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to work and learn with a diverse group of architects in France, ranging from heads of government or municipal departments to many Chief Architects of Historic Monuments. Afterward, it’s important to share what you’ve learned with a larger audience—the ideas you’ve come up with and the inspiration you’ve gleaned from collaborating with colleagues—just like Richard Morris Hunt did 150 years ago.”

Fellows & Scholars Réunion 2022

Paris-Lyon, Semaine du 23 au 28 mai 2022

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