MWE's space customer

Just over ten years after opening its Paris office, McDermott Will & Emery France - a firm of over 1,000 business lawyers worldwide, including around 100 in Europe - is revolutionizing its reception concept with a "client space" designed by CHAMBERS architects in the spectacular Hôtel de Livry, rue de l'Université (Paris 7th).

The building, built in 1640 and leased in 1721 to the Marquis de Livry, 1st Maître d'hôtel to the King, is a listed historic monument. Immediately connected to MWE's head office, all reception and meeting areas were grouped together in the mansion, which opens onto the courtyard and garden. The challenge taken up by the agency was to emphasize the magnificence of the historic setting while creating a contemporary, comfortable and technologically efficient environment for meetings and exchanges.

The scale of the interior volumes has allowed the reception area, lounge and seven meeting rooms to be integrated very naturally. The woodwork, parquet flooring and door transoms painted with scenes of domestic life have been delicately restored.

At the same time, the constraints imposed by the heritage character of the premises increased, despite a very trusting dialogue with the Architecte des Bâtiments de France. For example, the installation of light sources other than to replace pre-existing chandeliers of little interest was prohibited. The mechanical ventilation system was integrated into the floors and audiovisual furniture.

CHAMBERS architects therefore opted for an intervention that was as minimalist as it was assertive. Firstly, with a restricted choice of furniture, fixtures and carpets. Secondly, and above all, by introducing a number of "architectural objects" that touch on the original volume and décor without affecting them: a softly shaped, luminescent reception desk, an audiovisual wall in front of the old partitions, a sanitary block that imposes the evidence of the 21st century within these 17th-century walls. The Marquis would have loved it. The first occupants loved it.

Photo Alain Potignon, extras for the report: Chambers agency!