In 1994 Bernard Tschumi Architects won first prize in a limited competition for the design of a new graduate school of architecture for 1200 students at Marne-la-Vallée, France. The
competition was unusual in that it required the presentation of both a pedagogical program and the architecture of the new school. It paired architects and programmers, requiring them to develop both the way in which a school of architecture should function and the physical environment in which the school would operate.
In the prevalent French model of architectural education, students and professors go to the school building only for classes. To counter this model and to foster unexpected social interactions, this project centers on a multi-level interior hall, 300 feet long by 80 feet wide by 50 feet tall, which serves as a container for the most public programs: a cafeteria, critique spaces, exhibition spaces, as well as an information desk and a lobby for two auditoria. The space allows the school to host conferences and video projections and, additionally, both planned services and unplanned student activities.
A social and cultural space, the central hall gathers together all the circulation of the school. The two auditoria are object-like volumes located within the hall; all other programs are located in blocks that surround and open onto this space, including studios, workshops, classrooms, the library, research areas, and administrative offices. To reflect the increasing importance of computer technology in architectural design, the studios are designed to accommodate a computer network with workstations at each desk.
The school is part of a new university plan, to be completed over the next few decades, which calls for modern buildings to be placed in an open green space located outside Paris. Situated at the end of a primary axis of the future campus, the building is raised onto a podium. The main south facade is composed largely of transparent glass, presenting the activities of the central hall as the image of the school.