The property was renovated and refurbished between 1979 and 1985 by the architect Roland Simounet to become a dedicated place to preserve and display art. Following a public design competition that put four architects in the running (Roland Simounet, Carlos Scarpa, Jean Monge and Roland Castro’s GAU Group), Roland Simounet was awarded the contract to install the Musée National Picasso within the Hôtel Salé.
A well-recognised and experienced architect, Roland Simounet was born in 1927 in Algeria where he worked until 1964 after a period studying at the École d’architecture du Quai Malaquais in Paris. He worked on temporary settlements, carrying out a study for the shanty town in Algiers on behalf of the International Congress for Modern Architecture in 1953, and building the Djenan el Hassan housing project in 1957. His experience combined the modernist architecture of Le Corbusier with Mediterranean tradition—which had already inspired him, and he became interested in horizontality.
The LaM, a modern art museum in Villeneuve d’Ascq (1983), for which he won the public competition in 1973, is a good representation of his approach to arranging architectural blocks in an organised sequence, a model also found in the Museum of Prehistory in Nemours (1981), with its asymmetrical footprint comprising different wings, adapted to the uneven terrain.