When he authorised the Jesuits to open a college in Reims in 1606, Henry IV was far from imagining that four centuries later this place would be home to a prestigious school with an international reputation. The library wing is the most remarkable part of the entire building. On the ground floor, it comprises a panelled refectory adorned with outstanding paintings by Jean Helart. The vaulted kitchen, which is the only remaining part of the priory of Saint-Maurice des Bénédictins, is located at the east end of the wing. At the opposite end, the grand staircase majestically unfolds into dog-legged flights of stairs over the entire height of the western pavilion. Between 2002 and 2007, State services initiated a first phase of pure restoration work. This operation consisted in completely restoring the roof of the central wing and the library, as well as partially restoring the monumental staircase.
SCIENCES PO CAMPUS IN REIMS
RESTRUCTURING AND RESTORATION OF A HISTORICAL PLACE OF LEARNING
The appearance of the original architecture has been maintained by integrating the constraints and technical features worthy of a leading international higher education institution.
In 2009, the city of Reims decided to welcome the Franco-American campus of Sciences Po, and therefore launched a restructuring project whose programme was consistent with the initial purpose of the site. The project required the creation of several contemporary spaces. The specifications included very high technical requirements and, in addition to the programme’s statements of use, the project also had to take into account problems relating to health and safety and accessibility regulations.
The work on the parts of great architectural and cultural value, namely the library, the grand staircase, the refectory and the kitchens, was carried out according to conservation and restoration principles. Other spaces, such as the former dormitories and the right wing of the building, received new and contemporary fittings that are both clearly identifiable and designed to maintain the continuity of the place. To accommodate the students of the Science Po Euro-American Campus, we also built a 110-seat amphitheatre, two 50-seat classrooms, a 25-seat lecture hall, a study room and a staff room. None of the spaces are isolated from their historical context and, thanks to the work campaign, the campus can now accommodate close to 1,600 students, compared to 300 in the past.