The Maison Française is unique to the French mission in Washington. Its purpose is to provide a forum for regular contacts between Embassy staff and their American counterparts, to promote French culture and to serve as a center for the local French community.
This facility is designed to accommodate a wide variety of activities, from business conferences to films, plays, receptions and dinners. Many cultural events held at the Maison Française are open to the public. The premises may also be used by associations and corporate or private groups for functions with a significant connection between France and the United States.
The Maison Française includes a skylighted lobby, a 285-seat auditorium, an exhibition gallery, a ballroom, a bar area and a landscaped terrace. This space can accommodate receptions for up to 1,500 guests and sitdown dinners for 450.
In the early seventies the French Government decided to build a new Chancery to accommodate the ever growing French mission in Washington, D.C. In 1973, an eight-acre tract of land was purchased next to Glover Archibald Park (in northwest Washington) to house the various services that at the time were located in buildings throughout the city.
Two years later, a competition was held among French architects, and the winner was André Remondet. Born in 1908, Remondet earned diplomas from the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts (where he won the prestigious Grand Prix de Rome), George Washington University and the New York Structural Institute. He is a government official with the title of Chief Architect of Public Buildings. His early works include a faculty building at Germany's Sarrebruck University and several government buildings in Bayonne, in south western France.
Construction was entrusted to the George Hyman Construction Company of Washington; work began in May 1982 and ended in December 1984. French companies were contracted to supply most of the office furniture and equipment.
The building comprises four interconnected parts: Building A includes the Chancery and the Office of the Defense Attache; Building B includes most of the Embassy services and missions; Building C is the Consulate General; Building D houses La Maison Française. There are also three levels of parking (370 spaces). The total surface area is approximately 350,000 square feet, including 131,000 square feet of office space. A staff of 35O persons works in this complex. A 300-seat cafeteria, run by a French chef, caters to staff and guests.