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    Photo by Marwan Harmouche

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    Photo by Marwan Harmouche

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    Photo by Marwan Harmouche

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    Photo by Marwan Harmouche

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    Photo by Marwan Harmouche

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    Photo by Marwan Harmouche

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Beirut’s Banque du Liban preserved by a vision merging heritage and modernity

Georgina Johnston
12 Feb 2020

In his ongoing renovation project for Immeuble de l’Union, Karim Nader decided to preserve its sheer elegance and architectural historical value, avoiding nostalgia, through mixed-use re-programming, combining commercial ambition with a cultural and historical drive

As seen in his ongoing project for Immeuble de l’Union in Beirut, Karim Nader Studio, this time in partnership with Blankpage Architects and ESI (Engineered Systems International), is currently committed to a new renovation-as-reprise intervention, also aimed at preserving the architectural heritage of the city.

Attempting to save a Banque du Liban on campus building from demolition while readjusting it to today’s security and anti-seismic standards, the Banque du Liban CMA project, Capital Market Authorities head offices, expresses itself as a steel armor that operates as a reinforcing exoskeleton and new consolidated image. Black and stark, counterbalanced by touches of greenery, seeks to express the central bank’s values of security, strength and stability within a contemporary language.

Located at the end of Souraty street on the intersection with Rue de Rome, the project is framed by two modernist icons, the Interdesign building and the Banque du Liban main building. While trying to incorporate its heritage, the proposal subtly interprets the genetic code of its modern and brutalist neighbors. The prominent location at the end of the Souraty axis allows for a clear perspective towards the building from quite a distance, which is unusual for the areas of Hamra and Clemenceau with their moderately narrow streets. Therefore, a new facade for BDL other than the main one on Hamra street is now envisaged.

Located close to the Banque du Liban CMA building, on Spears street, stands the Immeuble de l’Union. Architects Lucien Cavro and Antoine Tabeta designed the 1952 residential building, a national architectural treasure also undergoing renovation by Karim Nader himself.

The final composition, with its rhythms, gridded balustrades, sporadic vegetation and extended glazing, evokes contemporary messages of security, naturalness and transparency while insisting on the modern values of rigor and repetition, albeit reworked into black steel and bent sideways in a discreet homage to the faceting of Khoury’s concrete sculpture nearby. On the other side, similar ideas unfold, this time in a less animated composition that merges with the vegetation and calm of the BDL campus within.

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