Albert Laprade (29 November 1883 - 9 May 1978) was a French architect, perhaps best known for the Palais de la Porte Dorée. During a long career he undertook many urban renewal projects as well as major industrial and commercial works. A skilled artist, he published a series of sketch books of architecture in France and other Mediterranean countries.
He was the only son of a wholesale grocer and a seamstress from Châteauroux. He attended the Lycée Jean-Giraudoux in Châteauroux, graduating in 1900. He then moved to Paris where his maternal uncle Ernest Cléret, an architect and professor at the Gobelins Manufactory, encouraged him to study for admission to the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. In 1905 he was admitted to the studio of Gaston Redon, and then studied under Albert Tournaire. He obtained his diploma as an architect in 1907.
Laprade's work reflected many of the changes in 20th-century architecture during his long career, but he always remained true to the principles of aesthetics, balance and proportion. He struggled with the challenge of building modern structures in Paris without destroying the harmony of the city's architecture. In 1931 he created a series of photomontages that illustrated the problem, showing skyscrapers emerging from among 19th-century buildings. Laprade also had to deal with the issue of how much the French should adapt to indigenous styles in the colonies. In 1928 Laprade described the new architectural style that was emerging in Morocco as a "synthesis of our Latin spirit and love for autochthonous art". Laprade saw the architect's goal as integrating "values of ambience" with a "whole way of life". He thought that architecture was alive, and "should express a sentiment."
Laprade believed in variety and complexity of the urban environment rather than uniformity, and was opposed to vandalism in the name of development of old quarters. He followed both traditional and modern styles. In some of his urban development work such as in Gournay-en-Bray (1942) and the old center of Le Mans he used a picturesque style. He used modern designs for commercial and industrial projects, which included the Citröen garage, rue Marbeuf (1928), Génissiat dam on the Rhône (1939-1950), Roselend dam at La Bâthie (1954-1961) and the development of the Renault factories on Seguin island at Boulogne-Billancourt (1944-1951).
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