Just as was the case for the Intendants, the prelates of the XVIIIth were veritable urban developers. Building their residences, and sometimes palaces, they created new quarters and changed the face of the city.
On becoming Archbishop of Bordeaux in 1771, Ferdinand-Maximilien Mériadec de Rohan undertook the complete restructuring of the old Archbishop's palace that, since the Middle-Ages had occupied the North West angle of the Cathedral. The palace had been renovated a century earlier by Cardinal François de Sourdis.
In 1771, Joseph Etienne was given the study of the palace and its grounds. The sale of the lands around the palace and the revenues of the diocese would help to finance the building. Unhappy with Etienne, the Archbishop retained Bonfin, the city architect who completed the work with the builder Poirier. As the cost of the building continued to rise, the Archbishop was forced to use his own fortune. He was followed by Mgr Champion de Cicé in 1781. The Palace was completed in 1784.
Stressed with columns, the wall of the cloisters is not unlike the original design that was proposed by the architect ode Neufforge in 1770. Along both sides of the courtyard, low buildings link the lodges to a colonnade. At the end of the courtyard, a facade with a central portico dominates the ensemble with its very clean lines. The rear facade of the building is identical and is prolonged by two low pavilions with balusters with bays mounted with garlands. The very structured and dry nature of these lines can be explained by the presence of Victor Louis in Bordeaux, who at the same time was building the Grand Thêatre.
Despite numerous modifications, the interior of the palace has kept the Grand staircase designed by Boffin, a series of saloons on the ground floor with sculpted lime woodwork, sculpted by Cabirol and a dining room decorated with trompe-l’œils by Lacour and Beringazo. Two decorations, a Pompeiian, the other in an antique renaissance style are excellent examples of the refined Bordelais interior of the period..
QUARTER OF HOTEL DE VILLE
Today, even though the name Mériadeck comes from the Cardinal prince of Rohan, Archbishop of Bordeaux in the XVIIIth century, the name is associated with the modern centre of the city, now known as the "City Hall Quarter".
Until the end of the XVIth century, this western part of the city was no more than a vast swamp, although it protected the city from undesirable visitors, it was also a contributing factor to the plague. Under the orders of Cardinal François de Sourdis, the area was drained, and the chartreux started building work at the beginning of the XVIIth century.
During the XIXth century, the quarter saw the widespread building of Echoppes, the traditional Bordelais style house for workers and craftsmen.
In 1955, the city decided to renovate the entire quarter, and in 1960 the Société Bordelaise Mixte de Rénovation Urbaine, was charged with the construction of 300 habitations. Jean Royer, City Architect designed a plan for 12 story buildings that were characteristic of the period. In 1963, the renovation became the restructuring, and the quarter became the administrative and business centre, with business and leisure facilities being added. In 1970, Jean Willerval and Paul Lagarde joined Jean Royer as architectural coordinators.
The original plan was redesigned to integrate numerous administrative services around a central garden. Pedestrians and cars were separated thanks to separate levels, and the height of buildings was limited.