due to the team’s commitment to breaking down silos to ensure collaboration
among specialized contractors.
“In the highly compartmentalized modern world, knowledge-sharing during
a project is not assured,” says Luc Weizmann, a Paris-based architect who was
part of the project team. “But it’s essential to overcome conflicts.”
A Holy Site, Modified by Man
Mont-Saint-Michel dates back to the 8th century, when the bishop of
Avranches built a church dedicated to the archangel Michael. Two hundred
years later, the Duke of Normandy gifted the Mont—at that time accessible only
during low tide—to Benedictine monks, who built a Romanesque abbey crowning the island’s summit. Below it, a medieval village once populated by pilgrims
now hosts approximately 3 million tourists every year.
The marshy setting they encounter while visiting is a modern creation. When
the French began reclaiming coastal lands for farming in the 19th century,
Ms. Garçon says, they constructed dikes to divert local rivers. With less water
flowing into the bay surrounding the Mont, it became surrounded by silt. The
situation was exacerbated by construction of the causeway, which accelerated
the deposition of sediment at the foot of the Mont. Salt marshes took root.
The problem worsened when another dam was constructed in 1969 to protect
farmland from high tides.
In 1995, the French government hatched a restoration plan, Ms. Garçon says,
Mont has been
—Anne Garçon, Syndicat Mixte Baie
du Mont-Saint-Michel, Beauvoir,
Mont-Saint-Michel as seen from
In 2005 By 2025