AJAP in New York

“AJAP/Les Albums des Jeunes Architectes et des Paysagistes” is an award given every two years by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication to professionals under 35 in the field of architecture and landscape design. It was created in 1980 by Joseph Belmont, an architect known for his public projects, notably the French Embassy in Japan. Not just a marketing vehicle for the new generation, its larger goal is to facilitate access to public works commissions and to foster dialogue and exposure at the regional and international levels through a traveling exhibition.

The AJAP jury was chaired by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, co-chaired by Frederic Borel, 2010 Grand Prize of Architecture, and by Michel Desvigne, 2011 Grand Prize of City Planning. On 03.28.12, 17 teams (14 architectural and 3 landscape designers) were selected from 240 entries. All but one team already had a built project in its portfolio, perhaps indicating these young designers’ commitment and willingness to take risks.

The AJAP 2012 exhibition was first installed in the Lower Gallery of the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine in the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. It ran simultaneously with two other shows, one on Henri Labrouste (1801-1875) and the other on Pierre Parat (b. 1928). As François Lambert, Director of the Institut Français d’Architecture observed, it gave the Cité the opportunity to present three generations of architects under one roof.

At the opening on 10.23.12, Aurélie Filippetti, Minister of Culture and Communication, emphasized the commitment of her administration to support the career of the young laureates. The exhibition, curated by Lionel Blaisse, was designed by Freaks freearchitects, the winning team of the 2009 AJAP competition.

The display consisted of a 50’x8′ self-standing black metal structure divided in equal vertical sections, one for each winner, housing back-lit panels at the top and “a treasure trove” at the bottom. There, on a shelf, were objects chosen by the winners to represent their design philosophy. In the low light, the displays glowed like lanterns.

The AJAP 2012 Paris exhibition closed on 12.09.12 and then went on tour through France and abroad. Freaks freearchitects designed a different display format suited to traveling requirements in which all information, text, and images were color-printed on 20’x8′ fabric sheets – easily transportable and quickly installed.

After touring France, the AJAP International Show arrived in New York and was installed at the Center for Architecture (with the technical assistance of Design 360) and opened on 07.02.13. The opening reception featured welcoming speeches by Antonin Baudry, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, and Rick Bell, FAIA, AIANY Executive Director, who reaffirmed the vital cultural exchanges between the two countries and their determination to collaborate.

As an example, the principals of the laureate team Nadau Lavergne Architectures – Vincent Lavergne and Jeremy Nadau – attended, having been invited to participate in a seminar moderated by Gwenaëlle de Kerret at the Center the morning of the opening. The laureates were previously in New York to be honored by the Bronx Museum of Arts for their proposed reinvention of the Grand Concourse.

Lavergne said that this trip and the AJAP award were like the realization of a dream. Indeed, the AJAP exhibition is filled with dreams and optimism of the new generation of French architects.

It closes on 08.24.13 and then travels to the Alliance Française in Washington, DC. Stop by the Center and see it before it heads south!

Pierre Folliet, an architect, painter and poet lives and works in New York City and shares his talent internationally.

Event: “AJAP/Les Albums des Jeunes Architectes et des Paysagistes”
Center for Architecture
Antonin Baudry, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy and Rick Bell, FAIA, AIANY Executive Director (opening remarks) 
 The French Ministry of Culture and Communication, the Institut Français and the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine.