Reconfiguring the City through Radical Infrastructure: Grand Paris Express

A view of the exhibit in Druker Design Gallery, showing a wall with a large aerial map of Paris and yellow lines delineating the area of the project.

The 14th Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design

The Grand Paris Express (GPE) is a transformative urban project of the 21st century that recalibrates the concept and practice of urban planning, with its scale and complexity far exceeding commonly held conceptions of the operative scale and agency of urban design.

  • How can we comprehend the GPE through the lens of urban design?
  • What insights does that lens provide into the multi-scalar operations of that project?
  • And conversely, how does the GPE impact our understanding of the operative scale and complexity of urban design itself?

Reading the GPE in terms of urban design, therefore, foregrounds its integrative, inter-scalar, social, political, and environmental significance. The overarching goal of GPE is to challenge the current monocentric model of Paris and create an open-ended megalopolis by radically changing existing patterns of circulation and decentering Paris itself. For the first time, new metro lines will connect peripheral banlieues–the ill-served districts predominantly occupied by immigrant populations–to each other, transforming these disadvantaged areas into peripheral centers. The new stations, embedded in the fabric of the city, act as nodes that reinforce the character of existing neighborhoods and enhance them with new housing, landscape, amenities, and economic initiatives.

The GPE connects the Grand Paris and the broader Île-de-France region, including its global extensions: the airports and high-speed rail lines. The project comprises four new metro lines (90% underground), 200 kilometers of new tracks, extensions of one existing line, and 68 new stations. The infrastructure layout is logical, with a signature external double loop partially overlapping the city center to connect external regions without passing through the center. It will serve more than 100 municipalities, 165,000 companies, and two to three million inhabitants daily, strengthening Paris’s attractiveness and improving access to economic and scientific hubs.

Setting a new standard for innovation in the field of urban design and sustainable territory, the construction of the Grand Paris Express began in 2016 and is scheduled to be completed by 2030. The project is at a pivotal point, with 29 tunnel boring machines driven underground, more than 90km of tunnels already built, and 27 stations in the development phase, affirming their architectural character in Paris. The Société du Grand Paris (SGP) is spearheading the project and working to bring all stakeholders together to achieve this ambitious project, which will shape urban landscape in Paris for many years to come.

The jury committee includes Eve Blau (Harvard GSD’s Adjunct Professor of the History and Theory of Urban Form and Design), Maurice Cox (Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development of the City of Chicago), Gary Hilderbrand (Harvard GSD’s Peter Louis Hornbeck Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture), Ron Witte (Harvard GSD’s Professor in Residence of Architecture) and chaired by Joan Busquets (Martin Bucksbaum Professor in Practice of Urban Planning and Design.

The Grand Paris Express is the winner of the 2023 Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design.

GPE project acknowledgement

Created in 2010, the Société du Grand Paris is the project manager of the Grand Paris Express. It has been structured and developed to manage the implementation of this major project, in association with its partners, primarily the local authorities.

Executive Board

The Management Board of Société du Grand Paris applies the decisions and recommendations of the Supervisory Board and the Strategic Committee in accordance with the set timetable.
Jean-François Monteils – Chairman
Bernard Cathelain, Frédéric Brédillot – Members of the Executive Board

Conseil de surveillance (Supervisory Board)
Chairman, Karim Bouamrane – Mayor of Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine
21 members. Including elected officials: Mrs. Valérie Pécresse – President of the Île-de-France Regional Council, Mrs. Anne Hidalgo – Mayor of Paris, M. Georges Siffredi – President of the Hauts-de-Seine Departmental Council, Mr. Stéphane Troussel – President of the Seine-Saint-Denis Departmental Council, Mr. Jean-François Parigi – President of the Seine-et-Marne Departmental Council, Mr. Pierre Bedier – President of the Yvelines Departmental Council, Mr. François Durovray – President of the Essonne Departmental Council, Mr. Olivier Capitanio – President of the Val-de-Marne Departmental Council, Mrs. Marie-Christine Cavecchi – President of the Val-d’Oise Departmental Council

And the officials of the:

Ministry of Ecological transition and territorial cohesion
General Directorate of the Treasury
General Directorate of Heritage
National Agency for Territorial Cohesion
Regional and Interdepartmental Directorate of Equipment and Development of Ile-de-France
Directorate of Housing, Urban Planning and Landscapes
Directorate of local authorities

Comité stratégique (Strategic Committee)
132 elected officials from the municipalities affected by the GPE
Metropole du Grand Paris

Regional transport actors

Île-de-France Mobilités

Expertise partners
Economists Scientific Council

Dominique Bureau – Chairman, General Civil Engineer of the Corps of Bridges, Waters and Forests, General delegate of the Conseil économique pour le développement durable (CEDD), Chairman of the Public Statistics Authority; Émile Quinet – General Rapporteur, Civil engineer of the Corps of Bridges and Roadways, Professor at the Paris School of Economics; Kristian Behrens – Professor at the University of Quebec, Montreal; Françoise Maurel – General Inspector of the Insee (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies); Jean-Paul Ourliac – General honorary Civil Engineer of the Corps of Bridges and Roadways; Frédéric Robert-Nicoud – Professor at the University of Geneva; Andrés Rodríguez-Pose – Professor at the London School of Economics; Richard G. Shearmur – Dean of the urban school of McGill’s University in Montreal; Jacques-François Thisse – Professor at the Université catholique de Louvain; Kurt Van Dender – Head of the unit «Tax and Environment», OECD; Jean-Luc Tavernier – General Director of INSEE; Michel Yahiel – General Commissioner of France Stratégie; Agnès Bénassy-Quéré – President of the Conseil d’analyse économique.

Architects and artists

L 14 S, MBP, Maison Blanche, GROUPE 6, Mark Wilson, Ned KAHN / L 14 S, KBH, Hôpital Bicêtre, J.P. VIGUIER & ASSOICIES”, Jean-Paul Viguier, Eva JOSPIN / L 14 S, C3C, L’Haÿ-les-Roses, “FRANKLIN AZZI ARCHITECTURE”, Franklin Azzi, NONOTAK / L 14 S, PDT, Porte de Thiais, BRUNET SAUNIER / L 14 S, PDR, Pont de Rungis, VALODE & PISTRE, Denis Valode, Lyes HAMMADOUCHE / L 15 S T3, PDS, Pont de Sèvres, “DUTHILLEUIL + AREP”, Jean-Marie Duthilleul, Ryoji IKEDA / L 15 S T3, ISS, Issy RER, BRUNET SAUNIER, Jérôme Brunet, Pablo VALBUENA / L 15 S T3, FIVC, Fort d’Issi -Vanves Clamart, PHILIPPE GAZEAU, Philippe Gazeau / L 15 S T3, CHM, Châtillon – Montrouge, PERIPHERIQUE ARCHITECTES, David Trottin, Laurent GRASSO / L 15 S T3, BAG, Bagneux, ATELIER BARANI, Marc Barani, Tatiana TROUVE / L 15 S T3, ARC, Arcueil – Cachan, AR-THEME ASSOCIES / L 15 S T3, IGR, Institut Gustave Roussy, D. PERRAULT ARCHITECTURE, Dominique Perrault, Ivan NAVARRO / L 15 S T3, VLA, “Villejuif Louis Aragon, PHILIPPE GAZEAU, Philippe Gazeau, Constance GUISSET / L 15 S T2, VIC, Vitry Centre, KING KONG, Frédéric Neau, Abdelkader BENCHAMMA / L 15 S T2, ARD, Les Ardoines, VALODE & PISTRE, Denis Valode / L 15 S T2, VDM, Le Vert de Maisons, VALODE & PISTRE, Denis Valode, Krijn DE KONING / L 15 S T2, CLE, Créteil l’Echat, ANMA / L 15 S T2, SMC, Saint Maur Créteil, ANMA, Cyril Trétout, Susanna FRITSCHER / L 15 S T2, CHC, Champigny Centre, RICHEZ ASSOCIES, Thomas Richez, Michelangelo PISTOLETTO / L 15 S T2, BVC, “Bry – Villiers – Champigny, RICHEZ ASSOCIES, Thomas Richez / L 15 S, OA THOREZ, OA Thorez Champigny / L 15 S, NCH, Noisy – Champs, DUTHILLEUIL + AREP, Jean-Marie Duthilleul / L 16, SDP, Saint-Denis Pleyel, KENGO KUMA & ASSOCIES / L 16, LCO, “La Courneuve Six Routes”, CHARTIER DALIX, Chartier & Dalix, Duy Anh NHAN DUC / L 16, LBG, Le Bourget RER, “ELIZABETH DE PORTZAMPARC”, Elizabeth de Portzamparc, Jeppe HEIN / L 16, LBM, Le Blanc Mesnil, BERRANGER & VINCENT, Berranger & Vincent, Noémie GOUDAL / L 16, ALN, Aulnay, ALDRIC BECKMAN, Aldric Beckmann, BERGER & BERGER / L 16, SEB, Sevran Beaudottes, “DUTHILLEUIL + AREP”, Jean-Marie Duthilleul / L 16, SEL, Sevran Livry, “DUTHILLEUIL + AREP”, Jean-Marie Duthilleul, DANIEL BUREN / L 16, CMF, Clichy – Montfermeil, “MIRALLES – TAGLIABUE & BORDAS + PEIRO”, Benedetta Tagliabue, JR / L 16, CHL, Chelles, ATELIER SCHALL, Pierre Schall / L 17, LBA, Le Bourget Aéroport, ATELIER NOVEMBRE, Jacques Pajot, Mona HATOUM / L 17, TDG, Triangle de Gonesse, ATELIER NOVEMBRE / L 17, PEX, Parc de Exposition, “DIETMAR FEICHTINGER ARCHITECTES”, Dietmar Feichtinger, Félicie D’ESTIENNE D’ORVES / L 17, CG2, Aéroport CDG 2, BENTHEM + CROUWEL / L 17, LMA, Le Mesnil-Amelot, “EXPLORATION ARCHITECTURE” / L 18, ORY, Orly, ADP, François Tamisier, VHILS / L 18, ANT, Antonypôle, ATELIER 2/3/4, Eric Puzenat, Julie C. FORTIER / L 18, MAO, Massy Opéra, ATELIER 2/3/4 / 0, MAS, Massy Palaiseau, RICHEZ ASSOCIES / L 18, PAL, “Gare Aérienne Palaiseau”, ATELIER NOVEMBRE / L18, ORS, “Gare Aérienne Orsay GIF”, ATELIER NOVEMBRE / L 18, CEA, “Gare Aérienne CEA Saint Aubin”, ATELIER NOVEMBRE / L 18, SQE, “Saint-Quentin Est”, “DIETMAR FEICHTINGER ARCHITECTES”, Dietmar Feichtinger / L 18, SAT, Satory, CORINNE VEZZONI / L 18, VCH, Versailles Chantier, “DIETMAR FEICHTINGER ARCHITECTES”, Dietmar Feichtinger / CT, Vitry, Vitry, ATELIER BARANI, Marc Barani, Stéphane THIDET / CT, Champigny, Champigny, RICHEZ ASSOCIES, Thomas Richez, Société Réaliste / CT, Aulnay, Aulnay, GROUPE 6, Mark Wilson, Yann Kersalé / CT, Palaiseau, Palaiseau, JFS ARCHITECTES, Jean-François Schmit, Fatiha ZEMMOURI / AA, AA, Tous les parvis, Thierry BOUTONNIER

GSD EXHIBITION CREDITS: 14th Green Prize in Urban Design

Harvard Graduate School of Design

Sarah M. Whiting, Dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture
Ken Stewart, Assistant Dean and Director of Communications and Public Programs


Dan Borelli, Director of Exhibitions
Ray Coffey, Exhibition Installer
Jef Czekaj, Exhibition Installer
Anita Kan, Exhibition Installer
Sarah Lubin, Exhibition Installer,
Jesus Matheus, Exhibition Installer
Joanna Vouriotis, Exhibition Installer
David Zimmerman-Stuart, Exhibitions Coordinator

Chad Kloepfer, Art Director
Willis Kingery, Graphic Design

Public Programs:

Paige K. Johnston, Associate Director, Public Programs
Kat Chavez, Public Programs Assistant

Joshua Machat, Assistant Director, Communications and Public Affairs