BEIRUT CITY CENTER RECOVERY: The Foch-Allenby and Etoile Conservation Area

Robert Saliba, Author . Steidl $80 (283p) ISBN 978-3-88243-978-6

In the 1980s, "downtown Beirut" became synonymous with bombed-out urban devastation, reflecting the destruction wrought by the Lebanese civil war on its capital. However, under a determined and strictly implemented restoration plan, Beirut's Foch-Allenby and Etoile areas, originally "destined to be the showcase of France in the Levant," have re-emerged as vibrant and active urban centers, with some resumption of Beirut's complicated emotional heritage as a major Mediterranean port. This impressive civic rebirth, as recorded by scholar Saliba (Beirut: 1920–1940 ) in this dense 9.5"×13" architectural history, was undertaken by the Soldiere company, according to strict historical, archeological and architectural preservationist standards. Despite the overly dry, jargonish and repetitive text ("interface" is one word that the reader will hope to never see again), the book is filled with 313 color and 86 b&w photographs and architectural survey. In addition, transparent overlays document the various archeological strata and cultural/historical sites of Beirut. An overwhelming number of streets and buildings gutted by bombs, and recorded in harrowing yet strangely beautiful "before" photographs, have been reconstructed exactly. The lines of the Foch-Allenby and Etoile's elegant buildings, with French architectural influences married to traditional structures such as the "riwaq," trace Lebanon's complex history. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/03/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
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