A new form of sponsorship
The Hôtel de la Marine is not a public building like the Louvre or the Château of Versailles, which are more accustomed to establishing partnerships with private enterprise and managing the works themselves. The easiest way to envisage sponsorship in this case was to approach it from the angle of a skills sponsorship. The sponsor provides professional know-how and supervises the work and the crafts- and tradespeople approved by the Historic Monuments Trust. The Hôtel de la Marine project was a ground-breaking sponsorship initiative, since it was the first time that private funding had been sought for State property.
Drawing on its know-how and expertise in renovation projects, Bouygues contributed not only financial resources but also the capacity of a major construction firm to complete complex projects on time.
Constant exchanges between the Culture and Defence Ministries and the Bouygues group were a notable feature of the skills sponsorship arrangement.
The government insisted on compliance with the rules for restoring historic monuments, for gilt work and painting, for example. The Naval Staff made sure that staff working conditions were not affected by the works in progress.
The Bouygues group staked its name and reputation on its professional abilities, providing staff for the project.
The Bouygues group already had a track record in initiatives to safeguard the country’s historical heritage. In the 1980s, for example, it reproduced the famous Marly Horses statues in the Place de la Concorde so that the originals could be preserved in the Louvre Museum. Building the Great Arch at La Défense also helped to enhance France’s heritage since the building, which commemorates the bicentenary of the French Revolution, closes the prospect extending from the Tuileries Gardens through the Arc de Triomphe to La Défense.
To oversee the Hôtel de la Marine restoration project, the sponsor is supported by a steering committee, a strategic works committee and a scientific advisory board.
The steering committee decides the procedures for carrying out the project and the main guidelines for the restoration work.
Strategic works committee
The Bouygues group has set up a strategic works committee to track the project.
The committee is kept informed of the state of progress.
It is consulted about and gives recommendations on special restoration work (exterior sculptures, paintwork, giltwork, chandeliers, sculpture in the State reception rooms, joinery and parquet flooring), compliance with the works schedule and budget and any serious difficulties encountered in the course of the works.
It is co-chaired by the Navy Chief of Staff and the Director of Architecture and National Heritage.
Scientific advisory board
From the outset, the scientific advisory board has assisted and informed the steering committee, the strategic works committee and the sponsor on the proper execution of special works, which must comply with the specifications of the General Inspectorate for Architecture and National Heritage.
The government had never before called on private funding for the restoration of one of its buildings. Sponsorship usually applies only to buildings that can be opened to the public, while the Hôtel de la Marine is the headquarters of the Naval Staff. Moreover, government buildings are in principle subject to public procurement rules and cannot therefore qualify for sponsorship.
To benefit from private donations, a building must be not only of public interest but also physically available to the public, and hence open a certain number of days a year. Since it is open to the public on national heritage open days, the Hôtel de la Marine was therefore deemed eligible for sponsorship.
(Updated: January 2016)