This builder will be missed at a time when the port of Beirut is crumbling under the rubble. Born in this city in 1963, the architect Jean-Marc Bonfils is the only Frenchman to die during the explosions that occurred in the capital on August 4, which killed at least 137 people and left more than 5,000 injured, including 23 French.
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He had built or restored many buildings winning several awards including the prestigious Asia architecture award (housing category) in 2015 for his East village building, built in Mar Mikhael for the Kettaneh family, great Lebanese entrepreneurs. A daring building, housing the Tanit gallery, which had increased its notoriety.
Son of the architect Maurice Bonfils
Coming from a French family settled in Lebanon since the 19th century, son of Maurice Bonfils, architect “superstar” in Beirut in the years 1970-1980, Jean-Marc Bonfils was trained in France and England. A graduate of the Paris Villemin School of Architecture, he also took courses at the Louvre School, before joining the Architectural Association in London. From 1987, he worked in Paris and collaborated with Christian de Portzamparc, Alain Sarfati, Jean-Marie Charpentier.
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After winning an international competition with his father, launched by Solidere, for the requalification of public spaces in the center of Beirut, he returned to Lebanon in 1995. He worked first in the field of town planning, re-qualifying master plans for tourist towns such as Baalbeck or Byblos.
A defender of Lebanese heritage
In 2006, when his father retired, he founded his own agency in Beirut, JM. Bonfils & Associés, which will employ up to fifteen architects. It has carried out nearly a hundred projects in Lebanon and elsewhere (France, Nigeria, Emirates, Saudi Arabia), including the Hajjar villa in Hazmié, Impact BBDO’s head office, public schools, two eco-museums in Turbol and Ras Baalbeck.
Emeritus violinist, discreet but very committed to the defense of Lebanese heritage devastated by fifteen years of war, Jean-Marc Bonfils founded within the Order of Architects of Beirut, a commission for the preservation of heritage buildings that he has a lot helped restore.
From 1999 to 2009, he also created the program of the National Library of Lebanon, now housed in an old building in Sanayeh. He also taught first at the American University of Beirut then at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts.