Paul Nelson, Oscar Nitzchke, Frantz Jourdain, Palais de la Découverte Project, Paris, France, Aerial perspective, (1938)
Ink, color ink, graphite, and color pencil on paper mounted on board
After taking his license at the Ècole des Beaux-Arts in 1927, Nelson became a member of the School of Paris, the eclectic group of modernist architects that also included Robert Mallet-Stevens. His project for the Palais de la Découverte, represented in this perspective drawing, arose after the scientific exhibit at Paris’s 1937 International Exposition greatly impressed authorities in the French government. As a result, Nelson and his colleagues Oscar Nitzchke and Frantz Jourdain were commissioned to produce a study for a permanent science museum in the city. The project, unfortunately never realized, envisioned a structure that was as functional as it was monumental, the outer envelope being designed to contain diverse exhibits with quite different spatial needs. Tensile cables anchored in the central ovoid shell support the circular cantilevered roof. The architects” ideals and aspirations are evident in the clear lines of the drawing, which portrays a building for a positivist, technocratic institution.
- Paola Antonelli from, “Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from The Museum of Modern Art”, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002